CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — A 40- year-old North Carolina man was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty in the August 2019 death of a 6-week-old child in Myrtle Beach, according to the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Geames Kena Ratliff, 40, of Hamlet, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in Horry County Circuit Court to a charge of inflicting great bodily injury upon a child and was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison, the solicitor’s office said.
An autopsy determined that the child died from injuries that were consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.
Ratliff was vacationing in Myrtle Beach with the child’s mother and their other children when he took the child and went into another room at the hotel where the family was staying, the solicitor’s office said. The child became unresponsive and was taken by ambulance to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center but died the next day.
At the time of the incident at the Camelot hotel on N. Ocean Boulevard, authorities said there were four other children in the room where officers found a “white powdery substance” near the infant’s bottle that tested positive for the presence of cocaine.
“The death of a child is always tragic, but one caused by the intentional injury is especially tragic,” said Leigh Waller, a senior assistant solicitor who prosecuted the case. “I am grateful we were able to achieve some measure of justice.”
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Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.