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Bamberg County Courthouse

(Larry Hardy/T&D Files)

BAMBERG - A Bamberg husband and wife were found not guilty Thursday of abusing their infant and causing brain damage.

After a four-day trial, 25-year-old Thelma George and 26-year-old Harold George Jr. were found not guilty of five charges related to two separate incidents involving their infant daughter.

"On behalf of Harold and Thelma George, and their family and (defense attorney) Maureen (Floyd), I would like to thank the jurors for paying close attention over a lengthy trial," said co-defense counsel Billy Rhoad. "And we are elated to bring closure in this chapter of their lives."

The Reddish Road residents were each charged with two counts of inflicting great bodily harm on a child, two counts of allowing another to inflict great bodily harm on a child and unlawful conduct toward a child.

Jurors deliberated for about 3.5 hours before reaching their decision Thursday.

The child, who turns 4 later this month, will remain in state care, officials said. The child now requires a breathing pipe and a feeding tube to survive.

According to Bamberg County Sheriff's Office incident reports, authorities were called to the Bamberg County Hospital on May 23, 2008, after the child, then 2 months old, was taken in for head and facial fractures.

Physicians felt the injuries were life-threatening and airlifted the child to Palmetto Health Children's Hospital in Columbia.

Bamberg County authorities contacted the State Law Enforcement Division to assist in the investigation "due to the severity of the injuries and the grim prognosis of this child," a police report states.

The child was taken to Columbia a second time in November after suffering internal injuries.

Floyd and Rhoad presented a defense in the first incident that implied someone else injured the child, rather than her parents.

In the second, they said the injuries were inflicted while CPR was being administered.

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"Mr. George was the one who caused the injuries," Rhoad said. "He attempted to perform CPR without having been adequately trained. Improper CPR is what injured the child."

Assistant Solicitor Brenda Brisbin introduced testimony from four pediatrics experts who claimed the motions of CPR wouldn't produce the same results.

Floyd said she felt it was an honor to have represented Thelma George during the trial.

"She was overcome with tears and emotion when the verdict came back," she said. "It was just a very moving and emotional experience in that courtroom."

Contact the writer: rwalker@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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