TAMPA — Two weeks before Dwayne Poole was accused of killing his 16-month-old son, Poole knocked out the boy's teeth, authorities say. Poole's girlfriend, Tonya Myers, knew that, yet didn't report it.
Myers, who was not the boy's mother, pleaded guilty to child neglect Tuesday for her silence after the earlier attack, which occurred in January 2011. When she brought up the matter with Poole, she later explained, he threatened to knock out her teeth and their daughter's teeth.
The boy, Ronderique Anderson, died Feb. 5, 2011. Poole is charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder. He first told police the boy fell down the stairs. Then Poole admitted that he hit Ronderique and threw him on a bed, causing him to hit a wall or dresser, police said at the time.
Myers won't be sentenced until after Poole's Dec. 10 trial. Child neglect, a second-degree felony, is punishable by up to 15 years, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe reminded her, before accepting her guilty plea.
The child's death was one of eight in a two-year period that brought scrutiny to Hillsborough Kids Inc., which ultimately lost its $65.5 million annual contract to Eckerd Youth Alternatives.