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A Virginia Man Put His Girlfriend's Toddler Into a Tub Filled With Scalding Hot Water, Killing Her. Then, He Texted: 'I’m Going to Jail.'

Man Sentenced 35 Years For Killing Girlfriend's 2-Year-Old Daughter
Source: Norfolk Police Department; Unsplash

John Hardee put 2-year-old Harley Williams in a bathtub with scalding hot water and then neglected to take her to a nearby hospital for help in 2018.

Aug. 4 2023, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

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A man in Virginia was convicted of killing a 2-year-old girl and was sentenced to 35 years in prison, according to authorities.

On May 26, a judge found John Hardee guilty of second-degree murder after putting Harley Williams in a bathtub with scalding hot water and then neglecting to take her to a nearby hospital for help in 2018.

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The recommended sentencing guidelines were between 17 years and five months, and 29 years and one month, so the judge went several years higher, WVEC-TV reported.

After Hardee’s release from prison, he will have five years of probation and must have no contact with minors.

During the sentencing, Hardee told the judge he regrets what happened and claimed he didn’t mean to hurt his girlfriend’s child.

Hardee said, "Your honor, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish we didn’t make different decisions. It was not malicious."

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However, prosecutors argued that Hardee is a danger to the public, especially after failing to act quickly when Harley got severely burned. After the incident happened, Hardee texted his girlfriend, Shelby Love: “I’m going to jail.”

Hardee also has a previous conviction from 2013 for beating his 14-month-old son, prosecutors said.


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virginia man sentenced  years killing  year old girl bathtub
Source: Norfolk Police Department

Shelby Love

The judge agreed with prosecutors, going above the recommended guidelines, saying the act was “not done out of ignorance, but out of selfishness,” WVEC reported.

Shelby Love pleaded guilty in October 2020 to felony homicide and child abuse/neglect charges. She was recently sentenced to serve 15 years behind bars, WVEC reported.


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