Mom: Suspect in toddler’s death said he ‘snapped’

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of beating and killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter at a metro Grand Rapids motel earlier this year was ordered to stand trial Wednesday.

Rickey Whiteside waived the adjudication of the judge at a probable cause hearing, which automatically sent the case on to circuit court.

Before he did so, the mother of Londyn Amir testified she and the toddler were living with Whiteside at the Lazy T motel along Plainfield Avenue just north of Grand Rapids. Shaniqua Strickland said she left her daughter with Whiteside — which she had done several times before — on the night of April 29 when she went to the store, in part to get marijuana papers for him.

“I laid her down actually before I left and I said, ‘Momma’s going to the store and I’ll be back’ and ‘I love you.’ And she said, ‘I love you too, Mommy,’ and she closed her eyes,” Strickland recounted.

Less than 20 minutes later, Strickland said, she returned to the motel to find Londyn limp in Whiteside’s arms.

“He’s trying to tell me that my baby is OK, but I know for a fact that my baby is not OK,” Strickland said. “My baby was foaming at the mouth and she was just passed out … in his arms. And he tried to hold her up and tell me she is breathing and no, you’re not going to tell me my baby is breathing. Something is wrong with my baby.”

She called 911 and waited for emergency responders.

“I kept saying her name and kept saying her name and my baby would not say nothing back to me at all,” she said.

Londyn was rushed to the hospital, where she died a few days later.

Authorities say Whiteside admitted to punching Londyn in the face, knocking her to the ground and causing her to lose consciousness.

“They (investigators) told me Rick admitted to it and it was so hard for me to believe because he never was like that. He was a sweetheart, he was sweet to me, he was sweet to my daughter, so I didn’t believe them,” Strickland testified.

Investigators allowed her to talk to Whiteside at the interrogation room at the sheriff’s department before he went to jail, at which point he allegedly made incriminating statements.

“I asked him what he did and he said that he just snapped,” Strickland said. “That’s what he told me: He just snapped. And his pride wouldn’t let him tell the truth.”

Whiteside stared at the wall as Strickland testified.

She was the only witness to take the stand. Under cross-examination, she admitted she had two contacts with Children’s Protective Services, both of which were dismissed.

Whiteside, 29, is charged with first-degree child abuse and felony murder. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

—24 Hour News 8’s Barton Deiters contributed to this report.

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