A DeKalb County jury on Friday convicted a former longtime state worker of murder for drowning his autistic 10-year-old adopted son last year.
Leon Williams, 44, whose attorney said he adopted the child to fill a “void,” had admitted repeatedly lying to police before finally revealing that he’d held Kentae Williams under bathtub water. The father was angry at the son for allegedly acting out in school and had just been heard by a neighbor telling Kentae he was “going to die tonight.”
Judge Daniel Coursey Jr. set Williams’ sentencing for Aug 3.
Defense attorney Daryl Queen had done his best to portray the father as a good man who’d been responsible for his son’s death only by accident. Queen said Williams held the child under water only as a punishment, not thinking it would kill the child who had been a ward of the state since birth and had communication issues as well as myriad mental challenges.
Tape of Williams speaking to investigators in the hours after his son’s death complicated that picture.
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As Williams would later acknowledge, he lied repeatedly and tried to blame the child for the April 28, 2017, death, citing a tendency toward "self-harming" behavior.
Williams, who at the time worked for the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, finally said he held the child under the water for 30 to 45 seconds twice and that it could’ve killed him. He also admitted hitting him with a belt.
He denied burning the child’s feet with scalding water, but police told him they didn’t believe him.
The ultimate cause of death was drowning, which prosecutors said took longer than Williams claimed he held the child down.
At the end of the police interview, Williams cried hard and said, “I don’t want to go to jail.”
He faces between 47 years and life without parole in prison.
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