Parents ask for new trial in daughter’s death

Becky Campbell • Jan 5, 2012 at 11:25 PM

The parents convicted in September of murder for the death of their 2-month-old daughter were back in court Thursday asking a judge for a new trial.

Russell Long, 27, and Jessica Adkins, 23 — engaged to be married at the time of their daughter’s death — were both convicted of first-degree murder by child neglect after a weeklong trial in September. Judge Robert Cupp sentenced the pair to life in prison.

Attorneys for the two presented arguments Thursday that their clients deserve a new trial because of flaws in the first one. Cupp said he must review evidence from the trial and case law presented to him before he can make a ruling. He set the case for March 5 for a ruling.

Kaylie Trinity Adkins was in her father’s care when he dropped her getting her out of the bathtub, according to what he told police. A forensic pathologist testified during the trial that the infant had broken ribs on the back of her rib cage — an indication she was squeezed — and skull fractures that caused her brain to bleed.

Adkins told police her daughter was throwing up and not eating in the days before her death, but thought the baby had a stomach bug. She said she had no reason to believe the baby was injured.

During Thursday’s hearing, attorney Donna Bolton, co-counsel to Adkins’ lead attorney Jim Bowman, told the judge there is no case law to support such a conviction — murder by child neglect. Bolton also said Adkins had no knowledge her daughter was injured or she would have sought medical help.

The element of “knowing” also was a central issue in Long’s motion for a new trial. His attorneys, Bill Donaldson and Jeff Kelly, argued their client didn’t know he injured his daughter and that the state had failed to prove he committed an intentional act of hurting the child.

Donaldson also argued the jury should not have been allowed to see color photographs from the autopsy, which he said were “highly prejudicial.” Attorneys said the subjects of the photos were described to the jury by the forensic pathologist, which was sufficient without showing the photos.

Another point Donaldson made for Long was the admission of a conversation between Long and Adkins at the police department in an interrogation room.

During the investigation, police told Adkins they believed Long punched the child and she was allowed to confront him about it. The exchange was videotaped and shown to the jury during the trial.

Donaldson said it was an error to allow an officer’s opinion to be presented as evidence in that manner.

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