Judge William E. Woodrum sentenced Phillip Waller, 21, Tuesday to serve two years of a 10-year sentence, said Michael Muldrew, assistant district attorney for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit.
The remaining eight years, Muldrew said, is likely to be spent on probation.
Waller will be credited for time served, which leaves him with about 10 months remaining of incarceration time. Muldrew said Waller will serve the remainder of his time at an area detention center to be determined by the state Department of Corrections.
Waller had entered a not-guilty plea in April on two counts associated with child abuse and a misdemeanor count of obstruction.
Muldrew said Tuesday the plea agreement Waller accepted included a guilty plea to one count of child abuse for knowing about the abuse but failing to report it or seeking medical help for the child. Waller also pled guilty to the misdemeanor count.
"We agreed to drop the other count of child cruelty, because there was never any allegation he harmed the child, just failed to report it," Muldrew said. "If he would have done that, maybe that child wouldn't have suffered as much as he did."
A jury was seated in the case last month, and Waller's trial was set to begin Monday before Effingham County Superior Court Judge F. Gates Peed.
Muldrew said the change of plea was as surprising to him as it was anyone else.
"There wasn't a lot of notice at all," Muldrew said. "We had a regular plea day today, and his attorney walked in and said they'd worked out a deal. So, they brought him in from Screven County, and we took care of it today."
A few days after his arrest, Waller was moved from the Effingham County jail to the Screven County jail, where he has remained for his own safety.
He was arrested Jan. 28, 2008 - one week to the day his live-in girlfriend, and the child's mother, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
Tina Marie Richards, 20, is serving a 31-year sentence in a women's state correctional facility for her role in the child's abuse.
Waller's mother, Joyce Schottel of Knoxville, Tenn., reached by cell phone Tuesday afternoon, had not heard the latest news of her son.
"I'm ecstatic," she said. "We've waited and waited and waited for such a long time now - over a year - on this, and I'm glad it's finally over," she said. "I'm glad for him, and I'm ready to have my son home."
Schottel has not seen her son in about a year, when she last visited him in jail, but has been keeping in touch with him through letters.
"I heard from him last Wednesday," she said. "I had wanted him to go to trial, but he had said he didn't trust a jury to make a decision for him."