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Parents accused of severely shaking seven-month-old

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Sep 24 2013 05:03:43 PM CDT
shaken baby charges
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. -

Two Washington County, Tennessee parents are facing charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect after police say they shook their seven-month-old child, causing shaken child syndrome.

Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s investigator Jared Taylor says Charlotte Irene Whitaker and Joe Franklin Whitaker were indicted by a grand jury earlier this month. Taylor says the sheriff's office started an investigation after the seven-month-old was brought to the Johnson City Medical Center.

Officers say the baby boy had bilateral retina damage and a brain hemorrhage. Taylor says the child was also determined to be malnourished because he only weighed 15 pounds.

We're told the child could face long-term damage. "We don't know if he'll be blind or have partial blindness, and we don't know what kind of life he's going to live really at this moment mentally, physiologically," adds Taylor.

Investigator Taylor says the child is now in custody of Child Protective Services.

He tells us the Whitakers each have nine-year-old children from prior relationships. Those children are with their other parents.

Joe and Charlotte were released from the Washington County Tennessee Jail, each on a $10,000 bond.