A metro man accused of abusing and killing a toddler pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Friday.
In a private moment after entering his guilty plea, Roderick Jackson apologized to the father of little N'kya Cargile. N'kya was 22 months old when she was killed in April 2012.
"He was basically saying that he was sorry. He didn't mean to do it really. He's not a baby killer," said Jason Watts, N'kya's father.
Watts and the N'Kya's mother, Angele Cargile, were going through a custody battle when N'kya died. Cargile was going out of town, so she left N'kya and her 4-year-son with Jackson, her boyfriend at the time.
N'kya was later rushed to the hospital unconscious and doctors reported she had obvious signs of abuse to her head, face and torso. She died the following day.
"My whole world shattered," explained Watts.
In an exclusive interview with Cargile a few days after N'Kya's death, Cargile told News 9 she trusted Jackson with her children, even though he had spent time in prison for assault and battery and domestic abuse.
Court papers later revealed that N'kya's brother told investigators Jackson punched him and N'kya in the stomach on several occasions.
"I'm just glad everything is over with and I can finally rest my head. It's been a long journey. I'm just glad everything is over with," Watts said.
Jackson's family was there, too, and he said goodbye to them as he was escorted away. Jackson was sentenced to a partially-suspended life sentence in which he will serve 35 years in prison and get credit for time he has already served in this case.