Jury finds WR man guilty in child abuse case

PERRY — A Houston County jury convicted a Warner Robins man of aggravated assault for placing his girlfriend’s child in scalding water estimated at 135 to 140 degrees, a prosecutor says.

After deliberating 5 1/2 hours Thursday, jurors also found Jamie Jackson, 23, guilty of aggravated battery and cruelty to children charges for also beating the 4-year-old, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason Ashford said.

But the jury acquitted Jackson of an aggravated assault charge, the prosecutor said, in relation to injuries that ruptured the boy’s liver and required a surgeon to remove part of his intestine.

The child abuse came to light Nov. 20, 2006, when the boy was taken by ambulance to Houston Medical Center near death.

The child, now 6, had second- and third-degree burns that were five to seven days old, had bruises from head to toe, was dehydrated, hypothermic and malnourished, Ashford reminded jurors during closing arguments Thursday.

Also, the boy had a shoe imprint on his chest, the prosecutor said.

“This child was a throwaway child and he came this close,” Ashford told jurors as he pinched his fingers to indicate inches, “this close to literally being thrown away.”

Ashford told jurors that the boy was the victim of beatings by both Jackson and his mother, 22-year-old Jamie Smith of Warner Robins. He noted that Smith pleaded guilty to cruelty to children for failing to get the child immediate medical attention and was sentenced to five years in prison.

But the child said Jackson was the one who placed him in the tub of nearly boiling water, Ashford noted. The water heater was set high.

Also, in a video interview played for jurors, the boy said that it was Jackson who hit him with his fists.

Ashford argued that Jackson was responsible for the bulk of the injuries to the child.

Robert Surrency, an assistant public defender representing Jackson, urged the jury not to become “lynch-mob-Bob” jurors and be “stampeded” into a guilty verdict by the prosecution that showed jurors “flashes of a brutally injured child.”

Although the injuries to the child were brutal, the defense argued that does not mean the blows were administered by Jackson.

Surrency told jurors that Jackson admitted to disciplining the child but never to intentionally injuring him.

The defense attorney also argued that Smith was the “real villain” and Jackson the “patsy.”

After the verdict was reached Thursday night, Ashford expressed gratitude to jurors. He also had something to say about Jackson.

“We called him a coward in court,” Ashford said. “What he did to this 4-year-old is unforgivable.”

The child, who is in foster care, has permanent scarring and still has nightmares but continues to recover and wants to be a doctor when he grows up, Ashford said.