The attorney representing the Columbus father charged with murder in the death of his 4-year-old son said the boy’s traumatic brain injury was accidental.
“Our argument and our defense is that the injuries resulted from an accident,” said Stacey Jackson, who represented 35-year-old Nathaniel Washington-Ghant III. “... I don’t want to elaborate to much, because obviously the discovery process is still ongoing.”
Ghant pleaded not guilty early Thursday in Columbus Recorder’s Court to second-degree murder in the death of Nathaniel Washington-Ghant IV, who officials said died from traumatic brain injury on Sept. 23. He was ordered held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond.
Judge Julius Hunter bound the case over to Superior Court.
Columbus Police Detective David Stokes said authorities were called to 4133 Willis St. on July 29, 2012, to check on an injured 28-day-old child identified as Nathaniel Washington-Ghant IV. His father was charged with first-degree cruelty to children in relation to the incident.
Further details about what led to the child’s injury have yet to be released, but a bill of indictment for the child cruelty charge states Ghant allegedly caused fractures to the boy’s legs, arms, ribs and skull.
On Sept. 23, authorities were called to 3351 North Lumpkin Road Apartment 5102 to investigate a death. Officials found the defendant’s son, who was 4 years old at the time, dead on the scene.
The Columbus Police Department’s Homicide Unit launched a death investigation into the incident. They were notified by the state medical examiner that the child’s manner of death was homicide and the cause of death was delayed complications to traumatic brain injury, Stokes testified.
Detectives clarified that the injury the child suffered in 2012 led to his death in September. Jackson asked how they came to the conclusion that the death was a homicide and not an accident.
“Their report was based off all the medical records that they received from the four years of life the child had,” Stokes responded. “It was based off of every medical visit he’s ever had and the type of injuries and the type of provisions he’s had were based off of those complications.”
By Jan. 26, a second-degree murder warrant was issued for Nathaniel Washington-Ghant III. Jackson said he was with his client when he turned himself in at the Columbus Public Safety Center at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Jackson clarified that the child cruelty case is still ongoing, even with the murder charge being filed in the same incident.
“The cruelty to children in the first-degree has been pending in Superior Court since 2012, but there was no disposition in that case,” Jackson said after Thursday’s hearing. “My understanding is that it was indicted by the grand jury and the DA’s Office back in February 2016, but it had not reached the time frame for that particular case to go to trial.”
It’s a possibility that the DA’s Office will merge the charges at a later date, Jackson said.