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Jury accidentally convicts accused baby batterer of misdemeanor

January 17, 1997

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) _ A jury that wanted to convict a man of felony involuntary manslaughter for shaking a baby to death mistakenly handed down a misdemeanor verdict.

Because the guilty verdict on a reckless misconduct charge was the only one read in court Thursday, the law requires that it stands.

That means James Kevin Evans faces a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Had Evans been convicted of the felony, he could have received a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Evans faced felony murder and aggravated assault charges in connection with the Aug. 19, 1995, death of 14-month-old Skye Thompson Prine, the daughter of the woman Evans was living with.

Autopsy findings ruled Skye’s death the result of ``Shaken Baby Syndrome.″

Prosecutor David Miller said jurors thought if they found Evans guilty on the reckless misconduct charge he automatically would be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

But Miller said jurors needed to return two verdicts.

Jurors let the bailiff know as soon as they left the courtroom that an incorrect verdict had been read.

But a verdict entered in open court cannot be changed, Miller said. There cannot be an appeal and there won’t be a new trial.

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