Cumberland County, Tennessee, man gets 17 years in prison in Rhea child abuse case

photo Jesse Lynn Wyatt, 24, of Cumberland County, Tenn.

A Cumberland County, Tennessee, man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison in connection with a 2017 "shaken baby" case.

Jesse Lynn Wyatt, 26, pleaded guilty last week to aggravated child abuse of a child less than 8 years old and was sentenced by Rhea County Criminal Court Judge Justin Angel in a battering case involving a 7-month-old girl who spent weeks in a hospital recovering from her injuries.

According to Rhea County Criminal Court documents, Wyatt was sentenced to serve the sentence at 100% as a standard offender under the 2005 state statute called Haley's Law, which stiffens the penalties for cases involving children younger than 8. The statute makes the offense a class A felony in a conviction. Wyatt was given credit for having been jailed in the case from Feb. 24, 2017, to May 13, when he entered a best-interest plea to the charge, court records state.

Wyatt was ordered to have no contact with the child. The child's mother was never implicated or named. She had left the child in Wyatt's care at the time the incident happened, authorities said.

On Feb. 23, 2017, ambulance personnel called for a medical helicopter to transport the baby once they saw her condition at a home on Shady Lane, east of Dayton, authorities said at the time.

A deputy drove the ambulance so both paramedics could work on the victim as they headed to meet the helicopter. Authorities relayed suspicions of "shaken baby syndrome," to medical officials at Erlanger hospital, Rhea County Sheriff's Office investigator Rocky Potter said.

Most of the baby's injuries were concentrated from the shoulders up, Potter said. Violently shaking an infant can damage the brain and spinal cord. Officials have not discussed the long-term effects of the baby's injuries.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at