HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi man pleaded guilty to felony child abuse Tuesday just moments before his trial was set to begin. Today, Kenneth Preston was sentenced to prison for holding a 16-month-old in a tub of hot water in 2014.
District Attorney Joel Smith said a child abuse investigation was launched on June 16, 2014 after the child was brought to the emergency room at Gulfport Memorial Hospital with severe burns.
Smith said the burn patterns proved the injuries were not an accident.
"Doctors discovered that the child had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on the buttocks, genitals and legs. Due to the serious nature of the burns, the child had to be immediately airlifted to the pediatric intensive care burn unit at Joseph Still Burn Hospital in Jackson, MS," said Assistant District Attorney Patti Simpson. "The state provided medical evidence, through expert testimony, that to cause these type of specific injuries the child had been immersed in a tub of hot water and held down."
Preston, 26, was arrested and charged with child abuse on Aug. 13, 2014.
During Preston's sentencing hearing, he told the court he "wasn't in the right state of mind with drugs and pills" when the child was burned.
Judge Roger Clark sentenced Preston to 20 years in prison, with 10 and a half of those years being suspended. He will also remain on probation for five years after he is released.
"I am extremely proud of the employees of Memorial Hospital, Long Beach Police Department, and the witnesses that came forward. Due to the ages of these types of victims, these doctors and witnesses are vital to giving a voice to the victims who are too young to speak for themselves," said Smith.