Summerville Police make second arrest in child's death

By Live 5 News Staff

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Summerville Police have arrested a second person in 3-year-old Serenity Richardson's death. Shanita Latrice Cunningham, 23-years-old, turned herself in to police Friday on a homicide by child abuse charge, said Captain Jon Rogers of the Summerville Police Department.

Cunningham's roommate, 23-year-old Erica Mae Butts, is currently being held in the Charleston County Detention Center on the same charge.

EMS was dispatched to 207 Congaree River Drive in the Lakes of Summerville subdivision around 7pm Tuesday. Richardson was not breathing and was later pronounced dead at Summerville Medical Center.

According to a written affidavit, Butts whipped the child with a belt for urinating on the floor. Medical staffers saw bruises and cuts all over the child's chest, stomach, legs, arms, feet, back and head.

Richardson had been in Butts' care since October, attorney Christopher Lizzi said. "Erica is a young lady who's never been in trouble, never had any history of any problems whatsoever. This is a shock for the entire family, and they just grieve for the mother of the child," Lizzi added. A background check showed Butts has no criminal history.

Ieshia Richardson, Serenity's mother, is from Detroit, Michigan. She did not speak at the bond hearing, but a victim's advocate told the court Richardson and Butts were best friends. At that point in the hearing, Butts started crying, "I'm so sorry Ieshia, I'm so sorry Ieshia."

Butts was denied bond Thursday and must stay in jail until a general sessions court judge can hear the charges against her. Only a general sessions court judge can set bond on a homicide charge.

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