Story Highlights• Judge accepts plea deal in killing of 2-year-old boy 17 years ago
• Father admits beating boy to death, making up cover story
• Prosecutor says lack of evidence made trying the case risky
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(CNN) -- A New Jersey judge approved a plea deal Friday that will set free a man who admitted murdering his 2-year-old son 17 years ago.
Curtis Williams confessed to beating son Curtis McCoy to death, after claiming for 16 years to have lost the child while shopping in Newark.
Williams told prosecutors where he buried the body in exchange for a plea deal that would set him free with time served -- only 20 months in prison.
When two days of digging in early April of this year failed to turn up the body, the victim's mother, La Shawn McCoy, hoped the plea deal would not stand.
McCoy expressed her anger and disdain toward Williams in court Friday morning.
"[You knew] all the time that you did not have him. That you had killed him," she said, in tears.
"I used that to comfort me, thinking that you had him and you were taking care of him, and you just didn't want to give him back. Now what do I have? What do I have to ease this pain? Nothing," she said. (Watch the grieving mother scold her child's killer )
Prosecutor Deborah Simon told CNN that had the plea deal been thrown out, it would still have been very difficult to try the case.
There is no forensic evidence that incriminates Williams, and the only testimony comes from Williams' girlfriend at the time of the murder, claiming he killed the child.
Williams is expected to be released from prison today.
CNN's Allan Chernoff and Winnie Dunbar contributed to this report.
La Shawn McCoy said there is nothing to ease her pain over the death of her 2-year-old son.