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Toddler in critical condition; man charged

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Submitted photo / Ryan James Shelley
Submitted photo / Ryan James Shelley

A Jennings County man faces charges of aggravated battery with serious injury and neglect related to an incident Thursday that left an 18-month-old child in critical condition, police report.

Ryan James Shelley, 27, North Vernon, was arrested Friday morning in connection with the incident reported in the 1400 block of Almond Avenue, according to a news release from the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident that led to Shelley’s arrest began when police and emergency personnel were sent to the home after dispatch received a call that a baby had fallen off a kitchen counter and was unconscious.

Police reported responding officers began CPR on the child, and she was immediately airlifted to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky.

Investigators interviewed both Shelley and the mother of the child at the scene, police said. Shelley is the boyfriend of the child’s mother.

Shelley initially told police he was alone with the child and her older brother when the girl fell off of the counter, hitting the kitchen floor. The mother returned to the Shelley residence from across the street, and the 911 call was made.

Major Jerry Shepherd, Lt. Brian Talkington and Detective Sgt. James Blevins went to the hospital where they spoke with doctors who informed them the injuries were not consistent with the information they had been given at the scene.

Police said doctors reported the injuries the child sustained were consistent with having been shaken forcefully and not an injury from a fall from a counter.

The child remains in the critical intensive care unit at Kosair on full life support.

On Friday morning, officers went to Shelley’s home at 1481 Almond Ave. Police said Shelley was found hiding in a rear bedroom closet of his home when deputies entered the residence. He was taken into custody without incident and taken to the Jennings County Jail.

During an interview, police said Shelley admitted the child did not fall off the counter but that he had grabbed the child and had forcibly shaken her because she would not stop crying. This admission by Shelley was consistent with what doctors had told investigators previously about the child’s injuries, police said.

Shelly was booked into the jail on preliminary charges of felony aggravated battery with serious injury and felony neglect. An initial hearing has not been set.

More charges are anticipated after officers present their case to Jennings County Prosecutor Alan Marshall’s office for review, police said.

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