Nurse nearly breaks down describing injuries to 2-year-old in abuse case

Becky Campbell • Jul 12, 2013 at 9:04 AM

A forensic services nurse who testified in two separate and unrelated child abuse cases nearly broke down at one point Thursday as she testified about the bruises on a 2-year-old boy who investigators say was abused by either his mother or her boyfriend.

Tessa Proffitt, a registered nurse for Mountain States Health Alliance, testified that the boy had bruises she did not believe could have been caused by a fall, which is what his mom and her boyfriend claim.

Amanda Percell, 22, and Andrew Lorenze Allen, 28, are both charged with aggravated child abuse and endangerment. Percell waived her preliminary hearing, which sent the case on to the grand jury, but Allen chose to have a hearing.

Percell’s attorney, Brad Sproles, was able to get her bond reduced from $50,000 to $25,000 after the state agreed. Assistant District Attorney Michael Rasnake told Judge Robert Lincoln he didn’t oppose the reduction based on Percell’s clean criminal history.

During Allen’s hearing, Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sam Phillips testified that he photographed the area where the boy reportedly fell from a deck, and he talked to Allen at the scene.

Phillips said Allen said he was the primary caregiver for the 2-year-old and a younger child while Percell worked. Allen told investigators that the day of the incident, May 15, he and Percell were inside and he thought the 2-year-old was also. Allen said he heard a yell and went outside to find the boy lying on the ground below the deck.

Later that day, Percell called Allen, who had gone to his mother’s house, and said her son’s head was swelling. She called 911, and that’s how law enforcement got involved.

Proffitt testified that she took photographs of numerous injuries to the boy, including bruises to his head, face, chest, back and legs.

After Lincoln ruled the case would go the grand jury, he granted the defense’s request for a lower bond. Lincoln reduced Allen’s bond from $100,000 to $50,000.

In another case, charges against Mark Vincent Kendall were also bound over to the grand jury.

Kendall and his wife, Melissa Gail Hyatt-Kendall, are charged with child abuse and neglect of their 17-day-old daughter. The couple took their daughter to the hospital for a rash and JCMC staff contacted the Department of Children’s Services and an investigation was initiated after medical staff discovered other injuries.

The hospital’s staff noticed the infant had bruising all over her body, including her buttocks, genitals, thigh, chest, arms and abdomen. While treating the infant, nurses also discovered a torn frenulum — the webbing under the tongue — and a small puncture wound on the palm of each hand.

Johnson City Police Investigator Andy Clevinger testified that Mark Kendall told him he had bathed the baby in a tub where they had been washing clothes and believed the washing powder may have caused a rash and possibly burned the baby’s skin.

But investigators determined the child had been injured in some way that caused the numerous bruises.

Proffitt also testified in Kendall’s hearing and said the baby also had a femur fracture.

Lincoln denied a defense request to lower Kendall’s bond, and it remains at $100,000.

Kendall, Percell and Allen are all scheduled to appear in Criminal Court in September.

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