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Wichita father pleads guilty to abusing toddler son who died in July after two-day visit

A Wichita father has admitted abusing his 20-month-old son, who died in July after spending two days and nights in his care.

Kentrell Willingham, 26, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of child abuse, according to court documents and Dan Dillon, a spokesman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. He is expected to receive prison time when he is sentenced March 17, his plea agreement says.

Willingham’s son, Lasiah Williams, died on July 28 after a custody exchange between Willingham and one of Lasiah’s family members. Wichita police have said family realized Lasiah had become unresponsive after leaving the exchange point and took the toddler to a Wichita hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy found “extensive external injuries” on Lasiah’s head, neck, torso, arms and legs — which a medical examiner noted on the report “is strongly concerning for intentionally inflicted trauma” — as well as tiny spots on one eyelid called petechiae, caused by broken blood vessels and “often associated with ... asphyxia.”

But the boy had no “notable internal injuries” that pointed to a cause or manner of death, both of which were ruled undetermined, according to the autopsy report.

Lasiah’s regular caregivers told police he’d been uninjured when the visitation with his father began, according to a probable cause affidavit released by the court.

Willingham, who was originally charged with murdering, abusing and endangering Lasiah, claimed in a police interview that his son was “uninjured, alert, and smiling” when their visit ended and said the boy had “played roughly with some other kids” during a lake trip but hadn’t been hurt, the affidavit says.

Phone messages between Willingham and his girlfriend, however, suggest Lasiah was being abused, according to the document.

Murder, child abuse and endangerment charges are pending against Willingham’s girlfriend, Xjohnna Hannah, 26, of Wichita, court records show. She’s due in court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 9.