Teen charged in death of 11-week-old son

By Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 08:22:49 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 17 2014 06:40:00 PM EDT

Investigators say the baby suffered multiple brain injuries and severe eye damage. They say 19-year old Jesse Helms the father called 911 last Tuesday. The baby died Wednesday at Wolfson Children's Hospital. Thursday, investigators arrested Helms and charged him with aggravated manslaughter.

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -

A 19-year-old Middleburg man is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child in the death of his 11-week-old son.

Jesse Helms was arrested Monday after being interviewed by detectives.

His son, Jacoby, was taken a hospital a week ago, and doctors found that he didn't have any brain activity. Jacoby died last Wednesday.

According to a police report, the baby suffered multiple subdural hematomas, or collections of blood on the surface of his brain, blunt force trauma to his abdomen and severe retinal hemorrhaging in his right eye. The trauma nearly detached the retina, according to the report.

The injuries were consistent with the victim being severely shaken and likely hit into something, according to the report. Tests revealed that the brain bleeds were all from the same time and incident, according to the report.

"These injuries would have been immediately debilitating to the victim," the report reads.

Investigators said there was probable cause Helms committed aggravated manslaughter of a child. Helms' statement to deputies was redacted from the report.

"At various times throughout, during the morning, it was sleeping, it was up and playing with the father and was in the company of the father while he went about daily tasks in the home and in the yard," said Detective Con Kelley, the lead detective in the case.

He said deputies are still investigating what may have triggered the events that led to Jacoby's death.

Helms called 911 when his son was unresponsive.

Helms was arrested and booked into the Clay County jail. He made his first appearance in court Tuesday morning.

Along with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Children and Families is investigating.

"These infants are very fragile and it only takes a few moments to cause the possibility of permanent brain damage or death," DCF spokesman John Harrell said. "You just can't do this. Never ever, in any circumstance, shake your baby."

Peggy Payne is CEO of Clay County's Quigley House that helps domestic violence victims.

"I think people need to realize that we all have our breaking points, but we all know when we're getting there. We can feel it," Payne said. "And if you feel that way and you're around your child, don't touch them. Call someone for help. Even if you have to call 911 and say, 'I'm having a really hard time right now. My baby won't quit crying and I need help.' But ask for help. Don't take it out on an innocent child."

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