Antoine Petty’s past caught up him in a Prince George’s County courtroom Oct. 20, when Judge Michael Pearson sentenced him to 40 years behind bars for killing his two-month-old son and burying the remains.

Wearing orange prison garb, his face covered in tattoos, Petty asked the judge for leniency. He told the court he “never had no intention of killing” his son. He called it an “accident.”

Antoine Petty sentenced to 40 years, and wife Geneice Petty awaits sentencing for murder of their two-year-old son. (Courtesy photo)

On Sept. 21, 2016, the toddler was crying too much, Petty said he thought. Hoping to quiet the baby, Petty grabbed him by the arm and pounded him with a fist before handing him back to the mother. The crying continued. A second set of blows was delivered to the child’s body.

Within moments, two-month-old Antione Flemons stopped crying. He stopped breathing. He stopped living.

What happened next, said Petty’s court appointed attorney, Douglas Irminger, was sheer panic. He said his client tried to perform CPR, to no avail. Then, he and his wife Geneice put the body in their car overnight. The remains stayed in the vehicle, a “black hearse,” the prosecution called it, over the course of 24 hours while the Pettys slept, went to work and ran errands.

They then took the dead toddler to the back of Parkdale High School, located in Riverdale, Md., where they buried the body in a shallow grave.

Suspicious relatives reported their concerns to Child Protective Services because they had not seen the baby in a few days. But, the state says, the couple always had explanations for the child’s whereabouts. Finally, relatives reported the baby missing.

A month after his death, Antione and Geneice Petty were arrested and led detectives to the grave where the two buried their son.

Geneice pled guilty to her role in burying her son. She could face 10 years when sentenced in December.

As the prosecution made its case for a lengthy prison term, the court was shown photographs on a large screen. One image was of the shallow grave. A few of the toddler’s decomposed fingers could be seen poking through the soil. Another showed an array of bones on a table; portions of a skull, some rib bones. Relatives, hoping for some measure of leniency, told the court that Petty was “A loving person, a good big brother.”

In a letter read in court, his 15-year-old daughter said she loved him and missed him so much, and asked the judge to “have mercy on my dad.”

The state countered that Petty is a violent man and offered testimony. Of his nine children, Petty is accused of carving a cross into the arm of a daughter and giving another a black eye. And there were “other offenses against other children,” according to State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

She spoke of “broken ribs, and kicks to the face.” Alsobrooks says Child Protective Services was aware of the incidents, but for whatever reason, police were never contacted.

The family maintains that Petty suffers from mental illness and that the judge should have taken that into consideration.

Prior to handing down the sentence, Judge Person said, “No case has ever disturbed me to the core as much as this one.”

Outside the courthouse, Petty’s sister, Sharnell Campbell, told reporters, “I feel like the sentence was really harsh . . . and I feel if he was getting the help that he needed that we wouldn’t be here today.