Man gets life for killing 2-year-old in Spartanburg

Rodney Samuels

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A man received a life sentence without parole today for the death of a two-year-old boy.

Solicitor Barry Barnette says 27-year-old Rodney O. Samuels was found guilty of homicide by child abuse.

Samuels is not eligible for parole and will serve every day of his prison sentence.

Jurors determined Samuels used blunt force trauma to kill 2-year-old Christian Blake Gentry on January 4, 2015.

The cause of death was a lacerated liver.

Gentry was left in Samuels’ care at an apartment on Hartnett Drive during the early morning hours of January 4th while his mom ran errands.

Samuels, who is not the father of Gentry, admitted to pushing the child off of a bed.

Solicitor Barry Barnette utilized medical testimony to show the baby’s liver could not have been damaged without extreme pressure of some sort.

Barnette also used a jail telephone call to show Samuels was not concerned about Gentry’s well-being in the aftermath of the crime.

Video from the apartment complex and a nearby gas station showed that Gentry’s mother was not present when Samuels hurt the child.

“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.

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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