LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (TCD) -- A 30-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, who was found with bruises, bite marks, and signs of sexual abuse in 2018.
According to a statement by 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo, William Ryan Looper pleaded guilty Thursday to murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and two counts of unlawful neglect of a child. Looper was sentenced to 60 years in prison on the criminal sexual conduct charge. Additionally, he was given 10 years on the unlawful neglect charges, to be served concurrently with no possibility for parole.
According to the Index-Journal, in June 2018, Laurens County deputies responded to 176 Country Lane regarding an unresponsive child. When deputies arrived, they reportedly found a lifeless 2-year-old Brantley Smith. The boy’s dog was allegedly lying beside him as a means of protection.
The Solicitor’s Office statement says Brantley had "visible bruising across much of his body." Looper’s then-girlfriend Jessica Smith reportedly told officers at the scene that Looper hit Brantley. Emergency personnel attempted to resuscitate Brantley, the Index-Journal reported, but he passed away before first responders arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Solicitor’s Office, Looper reportedly admitted to law enforcement that he "had been horrifically beating and abusing the child repeatedly for approximately two weeks," but he "did not know why." The statement said Looper admitted he sexually assaulted Brantley using a sex toy "with the intention of further hurting the victim."
The Department of Social Services safely took Brantley’s two brothers, 8-year-old Bobby and 6-year-old Brian, into custody, the Index-Journal reports. They reportedly told investigators that Looper punched Brantley and swung him by his feet against the wall. The night Brantley was killed, the brothers allegedly heard his screams.
According to the Index-Journal, Smith, Brantley’s mother, was at Walmart working a shift the night before her son was killed and had been gone for most of the abuse. Looper and Brantley’s mother reportedly started dating just weeks prior. Looper is not Brantley’s father, the Index-Journal reports.
The mother was charged with homicide by child abuse and two counts of unlawful neglect of a child. Her case remains ongoing.
According to the Index-Journal, in addition to the Brantley case, Looper told detectives that he and his two brothers were abused by their father, William Harold Looper III.
As a result, 51-year-old Looper III was arrested Monday and charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of unlawful neglect of a child, a charge of committing or attempting a lewd act on a child, buggery, and three counts of disseminating harmful material to minors. His case remains ongoing.
Looper reportedly claimed that his heart ached for what he did to Brantley, and that it’s hard for him to live with his actions.
The Index-Journal reports Looper’s plea deal spared him the possibility of the death sentence and instead gave him life in prison.