An Effingham County man was indicted Monday on charges he brutally beat his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter last month.
Robert Christopher Edwards, 24, of Rincon beat the child, “seriously disfiguring her body” and “causing extensive bruising and swelling,” according to the indictment in Effingham County Superior Court.
An 18-person grand jury formally charged Edwards with aggravated battery, three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of cruelty to children and obstruction of a police officer, all felonies.
“We expected the indictment. The evidence speaks for itself,” said Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Detective David Ehsanipoor, the lead investigator in the case.
The indictment accuses Edwards of hitting the child “multiple times in her face and head,” choking her and burning her with an object “believed to be a cigarette lighter.”
Edwards will be arraigned in superior court next month, Ehsanipoor said.
Edwards was arrested Aug. 13 at 230 Holly Lane in Rincon after someone inside the house called the ECSO to report that he was beating the 2-year-old in a bathroom. The child’s mother, Sabrina Saunders, 21, was at work at the time.
Ehsanipoor said the extensive injuries to the child’s head, neck, face, torso, arms and back were “nowhere close to just disciplining a child.”
Edwards resisted arrest, according to investigators. The indictment states that Edwards made threats to Deputy David Cribbs and also tried to kick Cribbs while he was in the back of a patrol car.
“He said to one of the deputies, ‘When I get out of jail, I’m going to come to your house and kill you,’” Ehsanipoor said at the time of Edwards' arrest.
It was not Edwards’ first arrest for abusing a child. His lengthy criminal history includes arrests on drug, domestic violence, obstruction of an officer and cruelty to children charges.
The day after Edwards’ arrest, Saunders was arrested on charges of cruelty to children, making false statements and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Investigators determined that at least one of the child’s injuries occurred several days earlier, and she was not taken for medical treatment, Ehsanipoor said.
Saunders bonded out of jail, but Edwards was denied bond by Chief Magistrate Scott Hinson based on the much more serious nature of his charges.
Child abuse experts examined the evidence to determine if the child might have been abused prior to Aug. 13. The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office is awaiting their findings, Ehsanipoor said.