Tampa jury convicts mother's boyfriend in baby's murder

Damarcus Kirkland-Williams admitted he beat the boy.
Damarcus Kirkland-Williams admitted he beat the boy.
Published March 14, 2015

TAMPA — A jury Friday convicted Damarcus Kirkland-Williams of killing his girlfriend's 1-year-old son in 2011, bringing an end to a case that exposed flaws in Florida's child protection system and in the Attorney General's Office.

Arrested four years ago in the death of Ezekiel Mathis, Kirkland-Williams, 25, was found guilty of first-degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse, according to a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office. His sentencing will be at a later date.

Kirkland-Williams came to child protection officials' attention well before he was accused of murder.

A few weeks before Ezekiel died, his 2-year-old sister was taken to a hospital with bruises all over her body. Though the children's mother, Swazikki Davis, blamed the girl's clumsiness, other family members pointed to Kirkland-Williams.

The Attorney General's Office decided the 2-year-old girl was in danger and had to be removed from her mother. But Ezekiel stayed in the home despite a Hillsborough judge's insistence that the child should be removed and the boyfriend barred from the house.

According to detectives, following his arrest, Kirkland-Williams admitted to throwing Ezekiel against a dresser and pounding on the baby's back to make him stop crying.

In a report released after Ezekiel's death, Attorney General Pam Bondi acknowledged that her office failed to look at the "whole picture."