A 24-year-old father will spend 20 years in prison after being sentenced on child abuse charges for shaking his five-month-old son so hard that it caused brain swelling, bleeding of blood vessels in the eyes and blindness, according to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade.
Archie Jarrell Isom of Lithia Springs received a 30-year sentence by Superior Court Judge David T. Emerson after entering a guilty plea to two counts of Aggravated Battery. After being released from prison, Isom will be required to serve the final 10 years of his sentence on probation. He is required to have no contact with the child and the child’s mother.
Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Smith told the court that the injuries suffered by the baby on December 31, 2010, were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, a medical term used for the internal head injuries a baby or young child sustains while being violently shaken. The injuries, Smith said, occurred while the baby was in the sole care of Isom, who was watching the child while the mother was at work.
“Sometime during the mother’s lunch break she received a call from the defendant, who informed her something was wrong with the baby,” said Smith. “The defendant said he could not wake their son up and that something was wrong with the child’s body…She instructed him to hang up the phone and call 911and she rushed home to see what happened.”
As the mother drove towards the couple’s residence, an ambulance carrying her unconscious five-month-old son was rushing away from the apartment complex towards WellStar Douglas Hospital.
“A doctor immediately noted retinal hemorrhages on the baby, a key sign of a child who has been shaken,” said Smith. “Doctors knew the baby was seriously injured and had him life-flighted to Scottish-Rite, which likely saved his life.”
When the child arrived at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital, a team of doctors also determined the injuries were consistent with him being shaken.
Smith pointed out that Isom remained silent, even amongst the chaos and uncertainty. “The mother had to sit by the side of her five-month-old child, wondering if he was going to come out of his coma, and yet the defendant said nothing.”
Isom finally broke his silence, telling authorities the child fell off a bed while the defendant was washing dishes in another room. After doctors determined his story did not match up with his son’s injuries, Isom changed his story again. This time he told authorities he tripped over a cat while carrying the baby. The accident, according to Isom, caused the child to fall and bump his head on the ground. Doctors determined that story was not consistent with the physical injuries sustained by the baby.