He was high on meth when he threw a 15-month-old into the air. The toddler died.

Charles Connetti III
Charles Connetti III

Charles Connetti III of Kiln admitted Thursday that he was high on methamphetamine when he threw 15-month-old Maddox Viergge, whose head hit the ground so hard he died days later from a brain bleed.

Connetti, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, avoiding a possible death penalty on an earlier charge of capital murder.

Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois will sentence Connetti at 9:30 a.m. April 16 in Hancock County. He faces 20-40 years in prison.

Maddox’s mother, with nine family members and supporters, sat in the courtroom during the plea hearing. Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said his office consulted with the family before working out the plea deal with Connetti.

Connetti, a large man in a striped prison jumpsuit, shackled at the waist, had to tell Bourgeois what he did for the plea deal to be approved.

The morning of March 31, 2016, he said that went outside at his mother’s house, where Maddox and his mom also were staying, to do some methamphetamine. When he came back inside, he told the judge, his mother sent him to the store to get milk for the children.

He went outside and did more methamphetamine after he returned from the store, he said. When he came back in, his mother told him to take Maddox and give him some milk.

Connetti said he took Maddox outside and tried to give him the milk, but Maddox was crying. Connetti said he couldn’t get Maddox to stop.

Connetti then threw Maddox, thinking he would land on the trunk. Instead, Connetti said, the toddler hit the ground. Connetti took Maddox inside. He was unconscious and his breathing was shallow. The family called for help.

Maddox died a few days later, on April 3, 2016, at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans.

Connetti was indicted almost a year later on the capital murder charge because the killing occurred during the commission of a second crime, felony child abuse. Second-degree murder refers to homicide by someone with a “depraved heart” who did not plan the crime in advance.