Man gets life in prison in baby’s death

JONESBORO — The boyfriend of a woman whose infant died from Shaken Baby Syndrome admitted on the eve of his trial to killing the child.

Jurors were being selected to hear the state’s case against James Darrell Bartlett, 34, in the death of Nacole Shavon Cockrell’s son, James Darrell Cockrell, when he changed his plea to guilty of murder.

The 4-month-old baby died Oct. 21, 2011, from injuries consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, said prosecutors. Police said Bartlett was not the baby’s father.

Clayton County prosecutor Kathryn Powers said Bartlett pleaded guilty to felony murder and child cruelty. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Nacole Cockrell, whom Powers said was not home at the time the injuries were inflicted, pleaded guilty to felony deprivation of a minor. Cockrell was sentenced to eight years, to serve two behind bars.

Powers said Cockrell was set to testify against Bartlett.

“She was cooperative and was going to testify against him if this had gone to trial,” said Powers.

According to the arrest warrant, when Cockrell discovered her son was not breathing Oct. 19, 2011, she refused to get him medical help and would not allow Bartlett to call 911. Bartlett was arrested about a week later.

According to court records, Cockrell pleaded no contest as a First Offender to battery under the Family Violence Act 16 days before the baby’s death. She was sentenced to 12 months probation and 40 hours of community service, but was back in court Nov. 9, 2011, for allegedly violating that probation.

Georgia Department of Corrections records show Bartlett has been in and out of state prison five times since April 1999. He was released seven months before the baby’s death and was locked up again five months after his death for possession of a firearm by a First Offender, according to prison records.