A Cherokee County man was sentenced to eight years in prison and 12 years probation, after authorities say he caused his 2-year-old son severe head trauma last March.

Kyle Raymond Walter, 29, of Canton, pled guilty and was sentenced for child abuse charges earlier this month, District Attorney Shannon Wallace announced Tuesday.

March 7, 2020, Walter injured his nearly 3-year-old son while the child’s mother was out shopping, authorities said. The mother returned home to find her son bleeding from the mouth, having difficulty walking, and acting lethargic. She took the child to Northside Hospital Cherokee, where he was assessed then airlifted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Initially Walter told Canton Police that the child must have fallen after climbing onto a bunkbed or dresser. Later, he told investigators he hit the child with a plastic baseball bat because he was misbehaving. The child later told police his father hit him with a large Thanos action figure toy, according to the district attorney.

At his April 8 plea hearing, Walter testified that he picked up his son by his upper thigh and threw him down, causing him to hit his head on action figures and other toys scattered on the floor.

The boy had multiple skull fractures, subdural hemorrhaging, and scattered subarachnoid hemorrhaging. While the child was receiving care at the hospital, medical staff noted bruises on various parts of his body, in different stages of healing.

Walter pled guilty to cruelty to children in the first degree, aggravated battery-family violence and aggravated assault-family violence.

Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Gower Side prosecuted the case on behalf of the state.

“Hearing Mr. Walter’s account of his actions was truly disturbing,” Side said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine the cruelty of a grown man throwing a small child to the floor in such a violent manner.”

Cherokee County Superior Court Chief Judge Ellen McElyea sentenced the defendant to 20 years, with the first 8 years to serve in confinement. She ordered that he have no unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 18 during probation. He must also participate in a family violence intervention program, submit to mental health evaluation and treatment, avoid alcohol and drugs, and adhere to other special conditions.

“Innocent children should never suffer abuse at the hands of anyone, much less their own parent who should be committed to caring for and protecting them,” Wallace said. “It is our hope that this sentence will ensure that the defendant never harms another child.”

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Local and state child abuse prevention resources include:

· Anna Crawford Children’s Center – CherokeeChildAdvocates.org

· The Children’s Haven – CherokeeChildrensHaven.org

· Prevent Child Abuse Georgia – Facebook.com/preventgeorgia

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Shannon Ballew is the managing editor at the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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