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Man, 18, gets 20 years in Md. child abuse death case

UPDATE: Darryl E. Powell was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Louise G. Scrivener. Scrivener recommended that Powell serve his sentence at the Patuxent Institution Youth Program, as requested by defense attorneys.

ORIGINAL POST: Only one person may ever know exactly how two-year-old Zjaire Williams died: His father.

The 18-year-old, Darryl E. Powell, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday morning in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Among the autopsy details expected to be presented by prosecutors: Zjaire had bruises over all his body, a lacerated liver split almost in half and bleeding in his brain.

Powell has already pleaded guilty in the case to first-degree child abuse resulting in death, part of an agreement with prosecutors to drop a murder charge, according to previous court hearings.

Zjaire Williams
Zjaire Williams. (Family Photo)

He is expected to get 20 years in prison, which under Maryland incarceration rules could make him eligible for release within 10 years.

People close to the case call it sad all the way around. Powell was only 17 at the time of his son's death. He called 911, and at one point administered CPR, his attorney, Mary Siegfried, said in court last year. She has recommended he be incarcerated at an institution for young offenders with emotional imbalances and intellectual impairments.

Prosecutors have said they won't object to such a placement.

Those related to Zjaire have described him as always smiling, with a habit of starting each day by donning a ball cap backwards.

In an Oct. 26 plea hearing, attorneys in the case said Powell called the boy's mother on Jan. 6 and asked if she could bring him over to spend the night. She did, at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 7. She would later tell detectives Zjaire was happy, alert and free of injuries when she dropped him off. Her report was confirmed by a friend who was with her at the time, according to prosecutors.

Police and paramedics were called to Powell's home in Gaithersburg at 6:19 a.m., Jan. 7, for a report of an unresponsive child. Zjaire was taken to Shady Grove Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 7 a.m., according to police.

Powell told police he didn't know what happened, according to charging documents and prosecutors' statements in court. He said that the two watched TV, he gave his son water and they went to sleep on different sofas.

When he awoke, Powell told detectives, Zjaire was on the floor and unresponsive, according to a summery of the case by prosecutor Karla Smith at Powell's plea hearing. She said an autopsy showed the child was killed by blunt force trauma such as “beating, kicking or slamming the child.”

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  January 27, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Montgomery  
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Dan, do you have a proof reader or an editor? My God, do you proof read your articles? That article is a PAINFUL to read. How about spell check? What, exactly, does "gearded" mean? While the article itself is horrific, the sloppiness of the writing is completely disrespectful to the content, to the reader and to your profession. Disgraceful. You should be ashamed.

Posted by: publicservice2 | January 27, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with publicservice2, the writing *is* sloppy. And what's with the abuse and odd placement of the commas?

other questionable choices -

"Zjaire was had bruises..."

"Maryland incarceration rulescould..."

"a friend who as with her..."

"the child was killed of blunt force trauma..."

Posted by: WilyArmadilla | January 27, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Wow, an idiot who doesn't know proof reader is one word is correcting the Wash Post? That Editor is capitalized? Not to mention it would be "this article," not "that article."

Posted by: reneewest225 | January 27, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Most importantly, you missed 'towards.' It is toward, but people who think they know the English language rarely know that.

Posted by: reneewest225 | January 27, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The errors are mine.

For unknown technical reasons, a working version of this post appeared on the live site, overwriting an edited version that also included a photograph.

Thanks for reading and submitting comments.

David P. Marino-Nachison, Deputy Crime & Courts Editor

Posted by: Washington Post Editors | January 27, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

She did, at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 7. She would later tell detectives Zjaire was happy, alert and free of injuries when she dropped him off. ==================================

She dropped her baby off at his house at 2AM? WTF. How come the child was not at home in his own bed at 2 in the morning? For that matter why wasn't she at home and in bed at that hour.

Posted by: MUPPET | January 27, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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