A man pleaded guilty and then was sentenced on two felony charges earlier this week after he endangered two Killeen children by letting them live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions at his home. Police began investigating the case after the death of a 1-year-old child at the home.
During a hearing on Monday, Joshua Timothy Rhoads, 36, was sentenced to two years behind bars on two state jail felony charges of endangering a child by criminal negligence. Two years of confinement is the maximum sentence for a state jail felony charge.
The sentences will run concurrently and he will get credit for time served, according to remote proceedings in the 27th Judicial District Court.
Rhoads was booked into the Bell County Jail on Sept. 17, 2020.
Judge John Gauntt followed a plea agreement in the case.
A co-defendant, Jennifer Renea Elliott, 27, was released on bond after a hearing last month. Her attorney indicated that Elliott wants her cases to be decided by a jury.
During that bond hearing for Elliott on March 1, an investigator said that children’s juice boxes were stored next to Drano and that the children who were alive both tested positive for methamphetamine.
Rhoads and Elliott were indicted on Oct. 28, 2020, on two state jail felony charges of abandoning or endangering a child by criminal negligence.
Police began investigating the conditions in their home after the drowning death of their 1-year-old child last year.
No charges have been filed directly relating to the child’s death.
The state charged Elliott and Rhoads with endangerment, with the two remaining children, who were 5 and 6 years old then, as alleged victims.
Killeen police on June 20, 2020, responded to a home in the 4400 block of Deek Drive. There, they found a 1-year-old child who was not breathing. Despite lifesaving procedures at the scene and the hospital, the child later died, according to the arrest affidavit.
Police said that neglect on the part of both parents contributed to the drowning of the child and that conditions in the home were “hazardous and threatening to the health and safety of the children.”
Elliott and Rhoads also each were charged with violating a protective order that was issued in Virginia on July 8, 2016. Police said that Rhoads was ordered to have no contact with the children until 2032 because of a child endangerment conviction in that state.
Violating a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor.
Killeen woman sentenced to probation for hitting cop
In an unrelated case that was heard remotely in the same court on Tuesday, Diamond Mecheal Florence, 27, of Killeen was sentenced to a term of 6 years of deferred adjudication probation after she hit a police officer last year.
Florence pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to a felony charge third-degree felony charge of assault of a public servant. No plea agreement had been reached in her case, which meant that she was facing 2-10 years in prison.
She also will receive mental health treatment, according to proceedings in the 27th Judicial District Court on Tuesday.
She was released from jail after posting a bond of $20,000, according to court records.
Killeen police on May 24, 2020, were dispatched to the 5000 block of Thayer Drive in reference to a verbal domestic disturbance.
There, a KPD officer attempted to detain Florence on a charge that is not specified in the arrest affidavit.
When Florence “failed to follow the officer’s instructions,” the officer began to place handcuffs on her, police said.
“The defendant struck (the officer) on the right side of her face, causing redness and pain,” according to the affidavit.