Richards was late for her probation revocation hearing. Judge Gates Peed said it was because she was having labor pains. Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie confirmed today that Richards is nine months pregnant. He said he called a doctor, the doctor checked her out and gave the okay for Richards to head to court.
That incident did not stop Judge Peed from coming down hard on Richards. He sentenced her to the maximum, 20 years for the child abuse charge and another year for a battery charge.
Richards stood emotionless during the 15 minute hearing.
Effingham County sheriff Jimmy McDuffie has watched this case closely from the start. He said he was pleased with the judge's ruling. "She can't get out and hurt baby Aiden anymore, whatever happens to him and his life, she's not going to be a part of it," McDuffie said.
Richards' attorney asked the judge to only make her serve five years in prison for violating her probation. Prosecutors said not so fast. They said she violated that probation by abusing Aiden again and missed meetings with her probation officer. Prosecutors asked the judge to give her the maximum.
Judge Peed looked at photographs taken of Aiden after he was abused in January. Minutes later, he revoked Richards' probation and sentenced her to 21 years in prison.
McDuffie said, "I expected him to sentence her pretty harshly but it was more than I thought. I can understand why."
In January, investigators said Aiden was beaten, bitten and restrained in a onesie that was sewn into a bed sheet. Richards still showed no emotion while prosecutors described Aiden's injuries.
The sheriff said Richards will spend the night in the Effingham County Jail. Sometime tomorrow deputies plan to take her to a women's prison in Atlanta. That's where she will serve her 21-year sentence and it's likely where she'll give birth to another son.
That baby's future is unclear. What is clear is that the judge made an example out of Tina Richards. Sheriff McDuffie hopes other child abusers understand how serious this is. "I think this sends a message to them that the courts in Effingham County aren't going to play with that, if you harm a child you are going to suffer the consequences," said McDuffie.
Sheriff McDuffie says once the baby boy is born, he will go into foster care and could even be put up for adoption. The sheriff said there are plans to induce labor on Monday. Baby Aiden is also in the state's custody. He is still at Memorial, breathing on his own and feeding from a bottle.
Aiden's grandmother said he should be released from the hospital this week, but there's still no confirmation on when exactly.
As for Aiden's father, Phillip Waller, he was in court today for a bond hearing. Waller is also charged with child abuse. The judge, having seen the abuse pictures during Richards' hearing, denied bond.
How could people be so naive as to not know that she was further along than "2-6 weeks"? That's Georgia for ya, I guess!? Just remember everyone, she is sentenced to 21 years in prison JUST for violating her probation, for beating Aiden LAST year! She is going to trial in March and will then be sentenced for critically injuring him in January! (You might as well say, she is going to serve LIFE! *JUSTICE IS SERVED!*) --God bless you Baby Aiden & baby brother...BEST WISHES! WE LOVE YOU, GUYS!
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