A little more than two years after Richard Allen Hicks was injured in a grenade attack in Iraq, he was charged with murder in the death of his 3-month-old son.
Hicks had served about five years in the U.S. Army.
After receiving the purple heart and other awards, he was honorably discharged in July 2011, his lawyer, Mark Beberman said during a Monday hearing in Bibb County Superior Court.
After finding it difficult to land a job, Hicks became the primary caregiver for his three children.
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July 14, 2012, the mother of his youngest child, 3-month-old Desmond, came home and found the boy seemingly asleep on Hicks’ chest, said prosecutor Kevin Ströberg.
“She picked up Desmond and he wasn’t responsive. He wasn’t breathing,” Ströberg said.
After an unsuccessful attempt to revive the child by CPR, he was rushed to a local hospital where doctors discovered he had a fractured skull and a brain bleed. The boy’s ribs also were fractured, Ströberg said.
Desmond was declared brain dead two days later, Ströberg said.
Hicks, 28, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Monday as part of an agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by two years on probation.
Once released, Hicks also must complete Bibb County’s Veterans Court program as a condition of his probation.
Ströberg said Hicks initially denied knowing his son was ill, but later admitted he threw him into a bassinet after becoming “frustrated” by the child’s crying.
The injuries Desmond suffered couldn’t have been the result of an accident unless he’d “fallen from a height of two stories,” Ströberg said.
Had the case gone to trial, Beberman said he would have argued that Desmond’s death was an accident and his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The boy’s head struck a plastic music box attached to the bassinet, likely causing a slow brain bleed, he said.
Children suffering such an injury have been known to cry at first, but then get quiet and go to sleep and show no outward signs that something’s wrong as the brain swells, Beberman said.
There’s a good chance the rib injuries are a result of the CPR attempt, he said.
Hicks has been held at the county jail since his July 16, 2012, arrest, according to jail records.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.