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Shaken baby suspect bound over to Superior Court

By Paul Frysh

A grand jury will hear the case against a Stockbridge man charged in the shaking death of his girlfriend's 5-month-old daughter.

The charges of felony murder and cruelty to children against 37-year-old Steven Jason Suggs were bound over on Friday to Henry County Superior Court by Henry County Magistrate Robert Godwin.

The charges stem from an Oct. 8 incident in which Suggs showed up at a Henry County Fire Station with a small child who appeared to have stopped breathing. The child was rushed to Henry County Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead.

Suggs, who attempted CPR on the infant before leaving his house, said the child had fallen off of the bed. But after examining the child, doctors were suspicious and called the police and family services. Detectives later determined injuries were consistent with “shaken baby syndrome.”

According to Henry County Police Detective Michael Reid who testified at the hearing, Suggs admitted in a taped interview and statement, that he “got aggravated” and “threw the baby six to eight feet across the room onto the bed, where she hit her head on the headboard.” After executing a search warrant of the suspect's home, the detective testified that he did not find anything out of the ordinary.

During questioning by Ricky Morris, Suggs' attorney, the detective said the suspect never admitted to striking the child.

Doctors and investigators later determined that the child suffered five skull fractures recent to the incident, and inconsistent with the single event described by the suspect.

Reid said that none of the doctors who examined the child said a single hit against the headboard would be sufficient to cause extensive skull fractures.

Both Suggs and Barbara Hatfield of McDonough, the mother of the child, had been interviewed about the incident, but only Suggs has been charged so far. Hatfield is cooperating, according to Henry County Police Spokesman Lt. Jason Bolton in the ongoing investigation.