A Coffee County father has been charged with murder for killing his five-week-old son.

The father, Gavin Clark, 21, of MacArthur Street has been charged with aggravated child abuse and first degree murder for the death of a child. He is being held on a $2 million bond, according to the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department.

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Gavin Clark

Police were called into the case after the child was treated Saturday, Jan. 4, in Tennova Healthcare - Harton in Tullahoma for severe trauma and did not survive.

Manchester Police Department received a call from the hospital on Saturday regarding the child’s severe injuries. The infant was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center but succumbed to the injuries Sunday. The original story, authorities say, was that the father had accidentally dropped the baby. However, doctors reportedly refuted the claim, telling investigators that the blunt force trauma to the child’s head was not from a drop.

“Two Vanderbilt doctors found the injuries to be consistent with abuse,” the murder warrant against Clark reads.

Police believe the baby suffered the fatal injuries at the MacArthur Street apartment where the father lived.

“The five-week-old was in the care of Mr. Clark when the injuries occurred,” the warrant noted.

Clark was booked in Coffee County Jail Sunday, Jan. 5, and was initially charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

The charge was later updated to aggravated child abuse and neglect and first degree murder after his child died.

The Manchester Police Department is working on the case in an attempt to ascertain exactly how the fatal injuries happened.

Under state law, the young father could face life in prison if convicted on the murder count. The aggravated child abuse count carries 15 to 60 years in prison under the Haley’s Law provision.

Haley’s Law makes it a Class A felony to abuse a child under the age of nine, causing serious bodily injury. Haley’s Law came about in 2004 when a baby named Haley was badly abused in East Tennessee, prompting an outcry for tougher penalties for those who abuse the helpless. In Haley’s case; however, the girl recovered from her injuries.

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