Appellate court upholds pair’s convictions in death of child

Tony Casey • Sep 28, 2013 at 9:01 PM

A state Court of Criminal Appeals judge affirmed convictions against a Johnson City couple charged with killing their baby by child abuse, in a ruling posted Friday.

Life sentences were handed down to Russell Long and Jessica Adkins after their 2-month-old daughter died in early March 2009 of injuries resulting from her being dropped by Long.

Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer upheld the court’s decision to punish Long of aggravated child abuse and first-degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect. Adkins was charged with first-degree murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.

Both had appealed and asked for a new trial, citing insufficient evidence to support the decision by Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp.

In his appeal Long also asserted that the trial court allowed the introduction of inadmissible hearsay evidence through videotaped conversations between the defendants and the court erred by failing to exclude an autopsy photograph of the victim.

Adkins also asserted that the court improperly overruled her objection to the state’s use of a visual aid during closing arguments.

The child died after suffering complications caused by a fall she suffered at the hands of Long. Long told an investigator he dropped the baby after getting her our of the bathtub, but kept silent about the injuries because he didn’t want to be seen a bad parent. The baby, Kaylie Trinity Adkins, suffered what a forensic pathologist cited as fractures to her skull and ribs and bleeding in her brain.

Long told Washington County Sheriff’s Investigator Sammy Phillips that it was an accident when he dropped the baby out of his hands, causing her to hit her head on the tub. He also told police his daughter had rolled off of the couch.

Dr. Marianne Neal, a pediatric radiologist, contended in testimony that the four fractures to the baby’s skull would have taken the force generated by a high-speed car crash.

Because Long failed to tell Adkins about the injuries to their baby, Cupp considered granting Adkins a new trial while denying Long a new trial, but ultimately denied them both, citing a similar appellate case.

Adkins took her older daughter for a doctor’s check-up days after the injury to the baby, and talked to the physician about the baby’s lack of eating and throwing up. The doctor denied examining the baby despite Adkins insisting that he had.

Adkins was charged with child neglect for not seeking proper medical attention for her daughter.

Testimony from Long and Adkins’ neighbors included them putting pressure on the couple to get the injured baby to a doctor, saying her vomiting and color were not good.

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