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Waller denied bond
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Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Gates Peed denied bond for the father of a toddler whose case has drawn widespread attention.

Phillip Wesley Waller will remain in Effingham County Jail after Judge Peed concurred the district attorney’s recommendation Tuesday morning that no bond be set for Waller. In a brief hearing in Effingham County Superior Court.

Waller’s father Ernest, a Garden City resident, testified on his son’s behalf and said he would be able to provide a residence and a job for his son if he were granted bond. Ernest Waller has owned Perfect Painting for nine years and said he is a lifelong resident of Chatham County.

But Assistant District Attorney Michael Muldrew countered that Ernest Waller spent a year in jail on a charge of battery.

“You had a string of other arrests,” Muldrew said to Waller. “You’re someone who beats on women. So you’re really not a good environment for your son to be around. You are not a good role model, are you?”

“I’m just trying to help my son, sir,” Waller replied. “I don’t think my son did anything wrong, and you know that.”

Phillip Waller has been in custody since January on two counts of cruelty to children and one count of obstruction. His son Aiden spent two months at Memorial Health University Medical Center in intensive care after he was rushed to the hospital. Authorities are charging Aiden’s mother, and Waller’s girlfriend, Tina Richards with
two counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravate assault and two counts of cruelty to children.

Waller said he lives with a nephew, his wife and their two children in Garden City. He has lived there for five years, staying in a garage apartment. He said there would be sufficient room for him and his son at the apartment and he would be able to find enough work for his son.

Steven Yekel, Phillip Waller’s public defender, said it is not likely Waller would flee the jurisdiction nor would he attempt to contact witnesses in an effort to intimidate them.

“I don’t see that as a problem,” he said. “He has no prior record.”

Yekel asked the court to set a reasonable bond so his client could live and work with his father.

“Clearly, this is a place he can reside and work,” he said.

Prosecutors attacked that notion, with Muldrew reminding Judge Peed he had been the one to sentence Ernest Waller to a year in jail.

 “This is not a proper environment for the defendant to be released to,” Muldrew said.

Tina Richards remains in custody at Metro State Prison after her probation for an earlier incident involving her son was revoked. She was sentenced to 21 years.

She also was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday, but her case was continued.

Aiden, now almost 14 months old, and his baby brother, nearly 2 months old, are in state custody.