Murder charges filed in shaken baby’s death


Murder charges were filed Tuesday against a Franklin man in connection with the Feb. 25 death of a 5-month-old infant who received injuries after being shaken, officials said.

A warrant charging Steven Anthony Haire, 22, with murder was approved Tuesday by Fayette County Chief Magistrate Robert A. Ruppenthal.

The infant, Zachery Freeman, received injuries from being shaken, according to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.

Fayette County paramedics responded to a home on West Lane Feb. 21 because the child had stopped breathing, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Haire told sheriff’s deputies that the child stopped breathing after he had laid it down with a bottle to take a nap. But sheriff’s investigators confirmed that the infant’s injuries “were not consistent with the statements given by Haire at the time of the incident,” deputies said in a press release.

Ballard declined to share details of what led up to the infant’s injuries, but said he was aware of other evidence that can’t be released at this point.

Officials are also awaiting the result of the infant’s autopsy, Ballard said. Infant Freeman was taken off life support early Friday evening, deputies said.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy, you just don’t want to hear about a baby getting killed this way,” Ballard said. “… You just can’t shake a baby. Their bodies aren’t able to withstand that kind of shock to their system.”

Emergency crews who responded to the scene performed CPR on the infant, who was first transported to Piedmont Fayette Hospital and later flown to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric hospital, where he was placed on life support.

Two other children who were living at the home have been placed in the custody of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, The Citizen has learned.