Man gets life for killing Spartanburg Co. toddler

Rodney Obryant Samuels
Rodney Obryant Samuels

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — A man is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury found him guilty for a 2-year-old’s death.

Rodney O. Samuels, 27, received a life sentence Wednesday after he was convicted of homicide by child abuse, the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office said in a statement.

Prosecutors say Christian Blake Gentry died of a lacerated liver in January 2015 after Samuels pushed the toddler off a bed.

At the time, Samuels was the boyfriend of Gentry’s mother.

“Gentry was left in Samuels’ care at a Hartnett Drive apartment during the early morning hours of Jan. 4 while his mother ran errands. Samuels, who is not the father of Gentry, admitted to pushing the child off of a bed while the defendant was lying there with another baby,” according to a statement.

Solicitor Barry Barnette used medical testimony to show the toddler’s liver could not have been damaged without extreme pressure and that Samuels did not seem concerned about the little boy’s death in phone call he made from jail following the crime.

“Christian Blake Gentry’s death was a senseless tragedy and I hope his family can rest easier knowing the person responsible for the heinous crime will spend the rest of their days in prison,” Barnette said in the statement.

Samuels’ prior criminal record included convictions for criminal domestic violence, possession of marijuana, failure to stop for a blue light and siren, driving under the influence and other traffic offenses.

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