Weatherford News

P.C. man sentenced to life in killing of toddler

A Springtown man is headed to prison for the rest of his life after a Parker County jury found him guilty of killing his girlfriend’s 14-month-old son in 2011.

The jury convicted Rodney Pettigrew, 27, of capital murder on Nov. 19, and he received an automatic life sentence without parole because prosecutors had waived the death penalty.

Pettigrew did not take the witness stand during his trial in Weatherford. But he had repeatedly told investigators that Kamden Lee Bailey fell from a kitchen countertop and struck his head, resulting in his death.

Authorities said Pettigrew was alone with the child at a home in Springtown on Sept. 15, 2011, when he called 911 to say the child had fallen and was not breathing.

Pettigrew told the 911 dispatcher that Kamden fell about four feet from the kitchen counter to the floor, according to a Parker County criminal affidavit.

At first, Pettigrew told the dispatcher that he hadn't seen Kamden fall, but when Parker County sheriff investigators arrived, he told them that he saw the toddler fall headfirst.

Pettigrew told authorities that he tried to revive the boy for two minutes before he called 911, according to the affidavit.

Kamden was initially taken to a hospital in Azle and then was moved to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. There, a doctor reported to authorities that Kamden's injuries were not consistent with a short fall, the affidavit stated.

The child had a "complex skull fracture" consistent with "severe abusive trauma," according to a Parker County affidavit.

Kamden died of a traumatic head injury at Cook Children’s the next day, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

Kamden’s mother has an 8-year-old son who was removed from her custody in 2008 because she neglected him, according to state officials. He was subsequently adopted by relatives who were granted permanent conservatorship in 2009, according to Child Protective Services records.

Kamden's mother was investigated by CPS when Kamden was born in 2010 because the older child had been taken away, CPS officials have said, but no problems were found.

Pettigrew and Kamden’s mother were not in a relationship at the time, according to CPS records.