FAIRMONT, W.Va. – A 36-year-old Fairmont man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the abuse and death of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son in 2021.

Walter Richardson, 36, of Fairmont, was originally charged with child abuse resulting in serious injury, but that was upgraded to first-degree murder and death of a child by a parent or guardian by child abuse after the boy died days later in the hospital.

Richardson was also ordered to pay $577 in court costs.

Before sentencing, Richardson offered apologies to the family and community and asked for forgiveness.

Ashlee Allen, the child’s mother, who knew Richardson was abusing the child but failed to report it, was sentenced in January 2023 for child neglect with injury, gross child neglect creating a risk of injury or death, and gross child neglect resulting in death. Her next parole hearing is scheduled for March 2026.

Also, two former CPS workers who failed to report abuse in the case, Breeana Bizub and Tabetha Phillips-Friend, were terminated, pleaded no contest in January 2022, and agreed to pay restitution.