Man gets 40 years in child abuse case

PERRY — Jamie Jackson, 23, of Warner Robins, was sentenced Thursday morning to 40 years in prison for beating his girlfriend’s 4-year-old boy and burning him by placing him in scalding tub water.

“That is a hefty sentence, but it is a heinous crime,” Houston County Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn said from the bench.

Nunn also sentenced Jackson to 10 years on probation after prison and banished him from Houston County and all contiguous counties. Jackson also was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution toward medical bills for the child, now 6.

The child abuse came to light Nov. 20, 2006, when the boy was taken by ambulance to Houston Medical Center near death. The boy was suffering from second- and third-degree burns that were five to seven days old, bruises from head to toe, dehydration, hypothermia and malnourishment.

He also had a shoe imprint on his chest and a ruptured liver. His injuries required a surgeon to remove part of his intestines.

A Houston County jury found Jackson guilty last week of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and cruelty to children for burning and beating the child. But jurors acquitted him of the liver and stomach injuries.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason Ashford argued for the maximum sentence of 71 years — noting the severity of the abuse and Jackson’s lack of concern for the child.

While Jackson was at home sleeping, the boy fought for his life at the hospital, Ashford told the judge.

The boy’s foster mother, who is in the process of adopting him, told the judge to keep Jackson behind bars where he could not hurt another child.

“His wounds will never heal. His scars will never go away,” she said. But Robert Surrency, an assistant public defender representing Jackson, noted that Jackson never intentionally injured the child and that such a harsh sentence as proposed would be a “complete and gross miscarriage of justice.”

He argued that Jackson was left “holding the bag” when the boy’s mother, Jamie Smith, 22, of Warner Robins, only received five years in prison in a “horrible deal” with the prosecution.

Smith pleaded guilty to cruelty to children for failing to get the child immediate medical attention.

From the bench, Nunn said that Jackson by his own admission did most of the hitting and that he was taking care of the boy when the burns occurred, although his story was he never intentionally hurt the boy. But jurors believed differently, Nunn said.

After sentencing, Ashford said he was grateful for the long prison term. Ashford, who acknowledged that the mother had beat the child but that Jackson was responsible for the bulk of injuries, noted that Jackson’s own statement to police was that the mother didn’t mistreat the child at all.

Meanwhile, Surrency noted that Jackson, a man, will likely spend eight times the amount of time in prison as Smith, a woman.

Jackson, who kept his head bowed during sentencing and wiped away tears, did not make a statement during the court proceedings.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.