MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man who admitted to burning a 2-year-old boy with a lighter because he was “mad” at the boy’s mother was sentenced to prison Tuesday, March 3.
Lamont Powell, 31, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges — child abuse, high probability of great harm, and neglecting a child, consequence is bodily harm, as party to a crime.
He was sentenced to serve seven years and six months in prison, plus three years’ extended supervision on the child abuse conviction, and three years in prison, and two years’ extended supervision on the child neglect conviction. He received credit for 159 days’ time served. That’s a total of 10 years and six months in prison, and five years’ extended supervision. A restitution hearing was scheduled for April 9.
According to a criminal complaint, on Sept. 23, 2019, a 2-year-old child was taken to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin by his biological father, suffering from burns throughout his body, including to his cheek, armpit, chest, and stomach. The father indicated his son had been staying with a friend of the child’s mother. A child abuse pediatrician noted many of the burns had the typical appearance of an inflicted lighter burn. The complaint noted that the injuries and delay in seeking care placed the child at risk for infection and permanent scarring.
“When I saw the burns, it was a bunch of different emotions,” said Geroge Harrell, father of 2-year-old Melo. “I was in a rage. I was angry. I was hurt. I was sad.”
Investigators spoke with Powell, who shares a child with the mother of the 2-year-old — also charged. He said they were staying together at a home near 22nd Street and Meinecke Avenue. According to prosecutors, after initially providing an “accidental explanation” for the child’s burns, Powell admitted to causing the burns.
“The man had just burned him all up and down his body,” said Harrell.
Powell said on Sept. 21, 2019 he was alone at the home with two children, including the 2-year-old. He said he was “mad” at the 2-year-old’s mother for not answering her phone, and he burned the child with a lighter multiple times, telling investigators, “That little (expletive) like fire.” The complaint said he indicated he was “sorry” for not taking the child to the hospital that night. A detective told Powell that what he did was torture, and he replied, “Yep,” according to the complaint. He said when the child’s mother came home, they put Vaseline on his burns.
“The extent of what really happened, nobody knows,” said Harrell. “I don’t think we’ll ever know because I don’t think he’ll acknowledge it.”
Harrell said he was working to help his son heal — in more ways than one.
“I’m going to fight for him,” said Harrell. “To make sure this guy stays locked up as long as possible. The treatments I’m giving him for his skin, the ointments and stuff, it will clear all the wounds up. We have to work on the soul and the spirit. That’s where the love and nurturing comes in.”
Powell turned himself in after talking to Harrell on the phone.
The child’s mother, Jawarria Addarr, 24, of Milwaukee in January pleaded guilty to one count of neglecting a child, consequence is bodily harm. She was sentenced to serve one year in prison, and one year extended supervision, which was stayed. She was instead placed on probation for two years and ordered to serve 90 days in the House of Correction with Huber release. An additional 30 days was stayed pending review, online court records showed.
According to a criminal complaint, Addarr told investigators she left her two children with Powell while she went to her mom’s house to do laundry. She said about 45 minutes to an hour later, she returned, and the children were sleeping. She indicated she didn’t notice the 2-year-old’s burns until the next day, despite him having burns on his face, the complaint said. She said she asked Powell how it happened, and he “became defensive and denied involvement.” She said later that day, she was contacted by her mother about the child’s burns, and the day after that, Addarr notified the child’s father. That’s when the child ended up at the hospital.
Prosecutors said Addarr’s mother told investigators she and the rest of the family “have always had concerns about Powell’s aggression.”