Dad JOHNNY LEE EDWARDS is heading towards the big house for the murder of his 5-week-old son. The baby was killed while he was at home alone with his father. Daddy says he "snapped."
Published Thursday, September 22, 2011
Father gets life sentence for baby's murder
By Alex McRae
Johnny Lee Edwards of Newnan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole Wednesday by Coweta Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby after pleading guilty to a charge of malice murder in the death of his 5-week-old son, Austin, in January.
Edwards also pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to children-first degree and one count of aggravated battery-family violence. Kirby sentenced Edwards to serve 20 years on each of those counts, to run concurrent with the life sentence.
Prior to sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Kevin McMurry outlined the facts of the case to Kirby. McMurry said 5-week-old Austin Edwards suffered broken bones, internal bleeding and other possible forms of physical abuse while in Edwards' care on Jan. 28, 2011.
Edwards, 22, had been residing with his girlfriend, Jessica Barrera, at 124 West Wedgewood Circle off Franklin Highway. The two were living with their children in a pool house behind Barrera's parents' residence.
At the time Austin's injuries were inflicted, he was at home with his father. Austin's 5-week-old twin sister, Abigail, was out of town with Jessica Barrera.
After the injuries to Austin were inflicted, Edwards reportedly took his infant son to his girlfriend's parents' house, and they drove the child to Piedmont Newnan Hospital.
Officials at Piedmont Newnan Hospital noticed injuries of a suspicious nature and called the Coweta County Sheriff's Office to report possible child abuse, McMurry said. The child was then transported by helicopter ambulance to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.
Officials at CHOA-Egleston diagnosed Austin with bleeding on the brain and other injuries consistent with being severely shaken.
Austin remained on life support until the late evening of Jan. 30, when family members decided not to continue life support. The infant was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.
Investigators with the sheriff's office called a family member later on Jan. 31 and asked that Edwards report to the Coweta County Jail. Edwards reported to the jail shortly after 6 p.m. that evening.
During a subsequent interview, Edwards initially denied injuring the child deliberately, saying he had accidentally dropped the baby on the bed while playing.
Later, Edwards confessed and told investigators "he had snapped and shaken him (Austin) profusely and caused his injuries," McMurry said.
Following the interview, Edwards was placed under arrest for murder.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Atlanta crime lab ruled the victim's death a homicide following an autopsy.
Investigators also learned that on Jan. 28, 5-week-old Abigail had suffered what appeared to be respiratory distress while with her mother and was taken to Children's Healthcare-Mt. Zion, in Clayton County.
Doctors at Mt. Zion subsequently diagnosed Abigail with bleeding on the brain consistent with being shaken and other injuries.
Abigail has still not fully recovered from her injuries and remains dependent on a feeding tube for nourishment, McMurry said.
Her long-term prognosis in unclear at this time.