Jamie Lee Elsea, 25 years old of Plymouth, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years of imprisonment for the aggravated battery of an 18 month old child left in his care. No part of the sentence was suspended. Judge Robert O. Bowen of Marshall Superior Court No. 1, took evidence and heard arguments from the prosecution and defense counsel before handing down the sentence.
Elsea had previously pled guilty pursuant to an agreement reached between Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier and defense counsel Tom A. Black. Terms of the agreement called for Elsea to plead guilty to Aggravated Battery, a Level 3 felony. No sentence was agreed upon, but instead the parties left the sentence entirely up to the judge. In exchange, a count of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Attempted Murder were dismissed.
Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman stated, “The State is satisfied with the outcome of this case. As the investigation progressed, it became clear that the crucial element of criminal intent to uphold a charge of attempted murder would have been extremely difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt with the evidence. Justice demanded we seek a conviction of Aggravated Battery, a Level 3 felony, that called for a sentence with a maximum term of 16 years of imprisonment. We are always comfortable with allowing Judge Bowen to consider all the facts and factors and render a fair sentence. Going to trial on attempted murder was just not prudent in light of all the known facts and circumstances.”
The case started on November 10, 2016 when Plymouth Police were called to the 1300 block of Holloway Drive regarding an injury to an infant who was not responsive. Detective Leo Mangus began his investigation by interviewing Jamie Elsea who had been caring for the 18 month old along with the child’s 2 ½ year old sibling. The mother of the children left them in Elsea’s care as she went to work. Elsea and the mother were living together, with the children, at the Holloway Drive address.
In the initial interview, Elsea stated that he had placed the child on the floor in a sitting position and the child fell backwards hitting her head on the carpeted floor. Detective Mangus challenged Elsea stating the injuries the child suffered were far more severe than what would occur by falling backward in a sitting position onto a carpeted floor.
At that point, Elsea changed his story and said he had lied and given Mangus false information. Instead, he now claimed he had been holding the child about chest high and accidently dropped her and she hit the back of her head on the floor. By this time, the child had been transported by helicopter from St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Ft. Wayne.
Detective Mangus was able to interview the child’s attending physicians and surgeon. He was informed the child was suffering from swelling of her brain caused by an epidural hematoma; part of her skull was surgically removed to accommodate the swelling. She also had retinal hemorrhaging which led the medical professionals to conclude the injuries were due to violent shaking of the child. In fact, there was no injury to the back of the head as described by Elsea.
When confronted with this new information, Elsea insisted he had dropped the child and that he was responsible for the injuries, and he admitted that he shook the child in an attempt to revive her. In court today, Elsea admitted the facts supported the Aggravated Battery charge.
Elsea has been held in the Marshall County Jail since his arrest November 11, 2016 arrest. Chipman noted that as a statutory crime of violence, Elsea will have to serve 85% or 10 years and 2 ½ months before he will be eligible for release.