Zavalla man gets 10 years for breaking 4-month-old baby's leg

Jimmy McClelland (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Jimmy McClelland (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County Judge sentenced a 26-year-old Zavalla man to 10 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison for abusing a 4-month-old baby to the point that the child suffered a broken leg and showed symptoms of shaken baby syndrome on Aug 12, 2011.

Judge Bob Inselmann, an Angelina County court-lat-law judge, issued Jimmy Brent McClelland's sentence at a hearing Tuesday. McClelland pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of injury to a child on April 9.

Angelina County District Attorney Art Bauereiss said that Inselmann sometimes helps the judicial district judges when there is a large backlog of felony cases.

There is an order signed by the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region that gives him authority to help dispose of "accumulated business" of the 2 district courts," Bauereiss said.

Elmer Beckworth, the prosecuting attorney on the case, said he thought the sentence was appropriate.

"I think the reason why it wasn't longer is because he had an absolutely clean criminal history," Beckworth said. "But I think the fact that he did get a prison sentence that justice was served."

Beckworth said the child is doing well. In regard to any possible brain damage that may have occurred because the child was shaken, he said, "My understanding is, as far as brain damage goes, they won't know how bad it is until the child is in school."

The paternal grandmother now has custody of the child, Beckworth said. He said that since McClelland injured the child, Child Protective Services officials determined that Mahala Ellis, the child's mother, was negligent.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, police responded to Lufkin Memorial ER on Aug. 12 in reference to the baby with a broken leg. Police spoke with the mother of the child, Mahala Ellis, who said she was at work when she got a call from McClelland, who said the child was hurt.

A detective spoke to McClelland, who said he was rocking the child by placing the baby's feet against McClelland's chest and placing the baby's knees against his own stomach. McClelland told the detective he was frustrated with the baby and got too rough in the manner he was rocking him when he heard a popping sound, according to the affidavit.

CPS responded to the ER later and reported the baby had also suffered retinal hemorrhaging consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

According to the affidavit, McClelland said earlier that Ellis had left for work when the baby started to cry in his swing. McClelland said he picked the baby up by his leg with one hand, with the other hand under his head, according to the affidavit.

McClelland is not the father of the child but has been helping raise him since his birth, according to the affidavit.

Ellis served a 30-day jail sentence in May after she pleaded guilty to hitting a disabled woman with her car and leaving the scene in June 2010.

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