The parents of a toddler who spent two months in the hospital recovering from injuries stemming from alleged child abuse pled not guilty to all the charges in Effingham County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.
Tina Richards and Phillip Waller have been charged with a total of six counts in relation to suspected child abuse involving the couple’s oldest son, Aiden. Aiden Waller turned 1 year old last month and spent nearly two months at Memorial Medical Center Health University. Richards is being charged with two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated assault and two counts of cruelty to children. Waller faces two counts of cruelty to children and one count of obstruction of an officer, which is a misdemeanor.
Richards and Waller were arraigned Wednesday before Judge Gates Peed. They were indicted March 17 by an Effingham County grand jury for a Jan. 21 incident involving Aiden. Richards was represented by Jack Williamson and Waller was represented by Stephen Yekel.
They were in court only long enough to enter their pleas.
Richards, who was on probation for an earlier incident involving her oldest son, had that probation revoked and was sentenced to 21 years in jail. She is currently incarcerated at the Metro State Prison for women in Atlanta. She gave birth to a baby boy a few days after she was sent to prison on Feb. 29.
Richards was indicted for aggravated battery and aggravated assault for the Jan. 21 incident that led to her oldest son being placed on life support before he recovered. According to the indictment, she also is charged with two counts of cruelty of children. The first charge is for biting, hitting and pinching Aiden and failing to seek medical care for her child between Dec. 7 and Jan. 21. The second is for placing her son in clothing sewn to a crib sheet and for tying his legs in order to restrict movement. Waller also is charged with the latter count of cruelty to children.
Waller was indicted for obstruction as grand jurors said he made false statements to Effingham County Sheriff’s investigator Mason Galloway concerning his knowledge of his son’s injuries.
Waller is being held without bond for his alleged role. He was denied in a March 13 hearing.