Local News

Army Sgt. Returns From Iraq To Face Charges In Son's Death

Posted March 24, 2005

— A Fort Bragg soldier who was overseas when his 3-month-old son died is back in the U.S. to face charges.

Johnston County deputies arrested Staff Sgt. Jessie Ullom Tuesday. He was picked up on Fort Bragg and taken to the Johnston County jail, where a bondsman was waiting for him, a spokeswoman for the Johnston County Sheriff's Office said. Ullom was released after posting $25,000 bail.

Authorities said he shook his baby so hard that the child eventually died.

A grand jury indicted Ullom earlier in March while he was in Iraq.

The indictment raised questions of why Ullom was allowed to deploy to Iraq and carry a weapon despite his felony conviction, apparently in violation of federal law and military policy.

Ullom was convicted of felony child abuse last year for shaking his son, Christian Zachary Norris, in 2002. The child, living in Johnston County at the time, was 3 months old when he was shaken. He died in December from lingering complications of shaken baby syndrome, the state's chief medical examiner said.

The 82nd Airborne Division issued a statement Wednesday denying that any of Ullom's current superior officers knew of Ullom's conviction, which barred him from possessing firearms.

"No one from the 82nd Airborne Division chain of command was made aware of the conviction and probation until March 14,'' the division's statement said. "Had the current chain of command been made aware, Ullom would not have been issued a weapon and deployed.''

The unit also denied having any contact with Ullom's probation officer, and said officials in Johnston and Hoke counties "did not coordinate with the unit.''

Ullom was transferred to the Hoke County probation office in September, according to Frank Davis, the judicial district manager of the probation office covering Hoke County.

"The military was aware that he was on probation,'' Davis said. ``(His probation officer) was in contact with the Army about his probation.''


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