Man sentenced to year in jail for slapping stranger's child in Wal-Mart

Roger Stephens, who captured national headlines last August after repeatedly slapping a 2-year-old at a Stone Mountain Wal-Mart, was sentenced to one year in jail Tuesday following a brief bench trial in Gwinnett County.

Stephens apologized to the little girl's family but did not testify. The trial was held without a jury as agreed upon by prosecutors and the defense.

Stephens was given credit for the four-plus months he's already served. By the first of March -- six months into the sentence -- Stephens will be eligible for house arrest, though defense attorney Jeff Sliz told the AJC that the retired Georgia Power worker would have difficulty paying the accompanying $300 monthly fee.

Sliz said his 61-year-old client was blindsided by the media attention his case generated.

"He's absolutely amazed this incident took on such Goliath proportions," Sliz said. "He never in his wildest imagination believed it would mushroom into this."

Sliz called his client's behavior "the ultimate knee-jerk reaction."

"He put his hands on a child when he clearly shouldn't have, and he realizes that," the attorney said.

The girl's mother told police that she was shopping at the Rockbridge Road store when Stephens approached and told her, “If you don’t shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you."

A few moments later, Stephens grabbed the 2-year-old and slapped her across the face four or five times, according to the police report.

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