On Monday, Robert Elliott, who was arrested in 2014 after bringing his daughter to Athens-Limestone Hospital with "life-threatening injuries," pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated child abuse. He will serve an 18-year sentence.
Elliot originally faced two counts of aggravated child abuse, one count of first-degree assault and one count of reckless endangerment, but all charges aside from aggravated child abuse were dropped as a result of the plea agreement. He agreed to the deal prior to his scheduled trial Monday morning.
A mistrial occurred the last time Elliott's case was set to go to trial, because his attorney fell ill. At the last trial, he was able to see his daughter for the first time in years. Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones said seeing her and the reaction from the jury after hearing the facts of the case may have led him to plead guilty.
"As we're were coming back up to the second round, we're very thankful that he took responsibility for what he had done and did not put this child through another trial," Jones said.
After the hearing, Jones told WAAY 31 that Elliott's daughter is bound to a wheelchair and is undergoing extensive medical treatment as a result of being shaken. She also cannot speak.
"Sometimes, parents don't realize when they're shaking a child the damage that they're causing that brain and the injuries that are going to be sustained by that child," Jones said.
Jones said this is the first shaken baby syndrome case in the past 25 years in Limestone County. He said he hopes that it will be a teaching moment for other parents.
"It doesn't take a lot of force, when you shake a child, to cause the kind of injuries that can cripple a child and cause brain damage, eye damage and other types of injuries of that nature," Jones said.