Jury convicts
on lesser charge in death of child

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Lawrenceville man was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children by a Gwinnett County jury Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Vandever said the jury chose the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and found Wade Lewis Jr. not guilty of murder.

Gwinnett Superior Court judge Timothy Hamil sentenced Lewis to serve 20 years in prison.

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

During more than a weeklong trial the state argued Lewis murdered his infant son by shaking him violently, causing severe brain damage and retinal hemorrhaging.

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 pleaded not guilty to the charges, stating his son fell off a backyard slide.

Lewis' attorney Scott Drake said in Friday's closing arguments that the contention that Lewis murdered his son was preposterous, claiming the state had no conclusive evidence that proved 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.

Following word of the verdict, Drake said considering what his client was facing the jury's decision was a good outcome.

"It's a tragic case and certainly for anyone, including Wade, he's lost a son and probably a wife," Drake said. "We are happy the jury looked beyond the emotional impact of the case and came to a fair decision."

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

Prosecutors 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.

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

Vandever commented Monday that he was satisfied with the jury's decision.

"The tragic life of an 18-month-old was lost, but the legal system brought a true and just verdict," Vandever said.