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Jury still deliberating in infant death case

LAWRENCEVILLE - Wade Lewis Jr. sat motionless in a Gwinnett County courtroom Friday as his attorney Scott Drake and prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Richard Vandever presented their closing arguments to a jury.

The 26-year-old Norcross man is accused of shaking to death his 18-month-old son, Isaiah, in 2005.

After a five-day trial and more than three hours of closing arguments, a jury was asked to decide a verdict Friday. That didn't happen.

Late Friday evening, Vandever said the jury deliberated for more than eight hours but was unable to decide Lewis' fate.

The jury will reconvene at 9 a.m. Monday, he said.

The state argued Lewis murdered his infant son in June 2005 by shaking him violently, causing severe brain damage and retinal hemorrhaging.

The jury has been given the choice of two lesser charges to consider in place of the murder and cruelty to children charges Lewis faces.

Judge Timothy Hamil said the jurors can consider involuntary manslaughter and simple battery only if they come to the decision the state has not proved the original two charges beyond reasonable doubt.

Lewis was arrested June 21, 2005, and charged with malice murder, murder, cruelty to children and aggravated battery, all felonies.

He has since remained at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond and has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming his son fell off a backyard slide.

Vandever said in Friday's closing arguments that medical evidence disputes that claim, indicating the child showed signs of "shaken baby syndrome."

On June 8, Isaiah was pronounced brain dead. Doctors removed him from life support the next day and he died.

Vandever told the jury police questioned the boy's parents about what had occurred and said Lewis initially lied, claiming his wife was caring for their son when the baby was injured.

Lewis claimed his wife, Carla Lewis, was playing with their son on a backyard play slide when the boy fell off and hit his head. Lewis allegedly changed his story when confronted with information that his wife was at work that day.

Lewis told police he lied because he had outstanding arrest warrants for probation violation in DeKalb County. His wife is not a suspect in this case.

Lewis reportedly offered different variations of the event, and at one point stated he only shook Isaiah to try to arouse him when he found him unresponsive the same day.

Drake said Vandever's argument that Lewis murdered his son is preposterous, claiming the state has no conclusive evidence that proves his client guilty.

Drake argued the medical examiner who testified earlier in the week admitted the boy's injuries could have been caused by some other trauma, but Vandever said the evidence of injuries must be looked at whole.

Vandever said an autopsy revealed blunt force trauma to the head, with the appearance that the child's head had been slammed against a smooth surface, as there were no cuts or abrasions.

It was also noted that there were thumb-sized bruises on both sides of Isaiah's chest and four fingertip-sized bruises on each side of his back, consistent with a baby being squeezed by two hands.