Shaken baby murder case comes to trial Jan. 13

Defense wants witness to testify via Skype due to medical condition

A Fayette County man charged with murder for shaking a baby to death faces a Jan. 13 trial in the case.

Jamal Rashad Thomas, 21, of North Fayette Drive in Fayetteville is charged with three counts of felony murder and other charges stemming from the death of a 9-week-old infant in the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2012.

The Fayette County District Attorney’s Office has accused Thomas of causing “cruel and excessive physical pain” to the child during the incident. According to the arrest warrant, the baby was shaken several times and suffered brain injury along with a bruise to her right forehead.

In addition to the felony murder charges, Thomas is accused of cruelty to children in the first degree, cruelty to children in the second degree and aggravated assault.

One unresolved matter heading into trial week is whether the presiding judge will allow a defense motion to allow one of its three medical experts to testify by a videoconferencing service such as Skype. According to defense attorneys, they recently learned that the expert in question suffers from a degenerative spinal disease and thus cannot travel from his home in California to Fayette County for the trial.

The motion has been challenged by the DA’s office, which contends that the defense team should have known about this limitation on their witness, since it was published online back in August of a similar matter involving the same defense witness in a different case.

The defense attorneys contend the matter was a miscommunication between the witness and their office.

“His testimony is critical to the defense in that he has reviewed all of the radiologic imaging in this case and in his opinion there are no specific signs to indicate trauma,” the defense motion stated.

The DA’s office also noted there are two other experts the defense will call to say essentially the same thing.

The case is being investigated by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. Thomas is being represented by Decatur attorneys Robert G. Rubin and Jason B. Sheffield.