Man pleads guilty to felony abuse, neglect in 2017 death of girl - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man pleads guilty to felony abuse, neglect in 2017 death of girlfriend's child

Kayla Williamson (Source: Sikeston DPS) Kayla Williamson (Source: Sikeston DPS)
Louis Hollis (Source: Sikeston DPS) Louis Hollis (Source: Sikeston DPS)
SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) -

A man pleaded guilty to felony abuse and neglect in the 2017 death of his girlfriend's one-year-old boy.

Louis Hollis appeared in court on Thursday, July 5 where he withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty to the Class A felony of abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Hollis was previously charged with second-degree murder, endangering the welfare of a child and abuse or neglect of a child in February 2017 in the death of his girlfriend's child.

The mother of the child, Kayla Williamson, is facing charges of second-degree murder, endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death and abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.

She is in the Scott County Jail and has a jury trial scheduled for Dec. 17, 2018 at 9 a.m.

Sikeston's Department of Public Safety reported first responders were called to the apartment and the one-year-old was not breathing. The child died at the hospital.

A detective on the case wrote that he was told the boy had suffocated by ingesting pepper and subsequently choked to death.

According to investigators, medical staff noticed injuries and bruising consistent with child abuse on the boy's body.

The detective on the case said he noticed several marks on the boy's arm and leg that appeared to be bite marks. He also reportedly had other bruising all over his body and both ears were severely bruised.

According to the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, officers were called to a home in the 600 block of South New Madrid Street at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12.

The child's mother, Kayla Williamson and her boyfriend, Louis Hollis, were both arrested.

During an interview with police, Williamson reportedly told investigators that her son likes to eat by himself, so she left him alone for about 15 or 20 minutes to eat. She claimed that when she went to check on her son, she found her boyfriend trying to perform CPR on the toddler.

According to the probable cause statement, Williamson also told a detective that she believed Hollis put pepper in her son's mouth. She went on to say that she'd smelled pepper on her son's breath before and that he'd recently thrown some pepper up. She also accused Hollis of putting soap in the boy's mouth.

During a second interview, Williamson reportedly admitted to putting pepper and soap in her son's mouth on a few occasions because he was biting or crying and being fussy.

The detective wrote that Williamson also said she would bite the boy on his hand or finger because he was biting her. She went on to say that she would "not cause the same type of injuries as Louis did."

Investigators say Hollis admitted to accidentally killing the 14-month-old by forcing a large amount of pepper into his mouth which caused him to suffocate and die.

Captain Jim McMillen said calls like this are difficult.

"These kind of calls are disturbing for a lot of first responders," he said. "It’s difficult, especially when you have children, to take a call like this. Everybody jumps on it and does the utmost they can do to try and help out. It’s tragic when it ends up like this. It’s difficult for officers, EMS, and responders to deal with sometimes. Especially if you have children, even if you don’t, it’s a troubling ordeal to undergo."

One neighbor said he hopes the accusations are not true.

"They recently moved in within the last month or so," he said. "They pretty much kept to themselves. Like I said, I could hear the baby crying quite often. I could hear the dad playing with the baby, or at least it sounded like he was playing with the baby.”

According to Sikeston DPS, a three-month-old girl that was in the home was put into protective care.

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