Plea Accepted in Jeff Davis County 2020 Child Death
State v. Jessica Lynn Gay

05 May 2022

District Attorney (DA) Keith Higgins announces the entry of a guilty plea in a child death case from Jeff Davis County.

On May 4, 2022, Jessica Lynn Gay, 25, from Hazlehurst, pled guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter, a felony, before Superior Court Judge Robert W. Guy, Jr. The charges stem from an incident that occurred on June 6, 2020 at her residence in Hazlehurst. On that date, Gay was bathing her 10-month-old son, Daltyn Hand. At the time, Gay was under the influence of buprenorphine and venlafaxine and was drowsy. Gay began running water into the bathtub. As she was running the water, Gay dozed off and did not awaken until her husband, Matthew Hand, ran into the bathroom. Though resuscitative efforts were performed, Daltyn died as a result of his drowning in the bathtub.

Following entry of the guilty plea, Judge Guy sentenced Gay to serve the maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison, pursuant to a plea agreement between the State and the defendant. The charges of Felony Murder and Cruelty to Children in the Second Degree were dismissed. “Daltyn’s death is heartbreaking,” stated District Attorney Higgins. “Although Ms. Gay did not intend to harm Daltyn, she needed to be held responsible for the reckless behavior that caused her son’s death. It is my hope that this case will serve as a lesson to all of us that we must be vigilant and never do anything that places a child in harm’s way.”

Members of the media with further questions may contact the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office at 912-554-7200.

Open Records Act Request: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-18-71(b)(2), the Open Records Officer for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office is Cathy Browning. Written requests should be submitted to her via email at or by mail to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Attention: Cathy Browning, 210 E. 4th St., Woodbine, GA 31569.
Media Policy: The Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney aims to scrupulously follow the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. The office is not ethically allowed to answer many questions posed by reporters, whatever the journalistic merit. The office cannot, for example, discuss an accused party’s criminal history or speculate about the impact of a particular piece of evidence. These rules are in place to ensure a defendant’s rights to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.