Jonesborough man charged in child’s death admits going to mall alone

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 5, 2013 at 9:33 PM

A Jonesborough man charged with felony child abuse/neglect of an 16-month-old child who was found dead at a Johnson City apartment in August made his initial court appearance Friday in Washington County Sessions Court.

Jonathan Cravens, 27, Apt. 21, 1298 W. Jackson Blvd., was arrested Wednesday and remains jailed at the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

On Friday, Sessions Court Judge Robert Lincoln appointed the public defender’s office to represent Cravens based on an affidavit in which he stated he had no money and no income.

A warrant for his arrest filed by Johnson City Police Investigator Deborah Carey-Dunn states Cravens called 911 from Knob Creek Arms Apartments, Apt. 20, at 12:49 p.m. on Aug. 19 and reported the child, who had been left in his care by his live-in girlfriend, was not breathing.

Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle, said an autopsy was ordered after the child, who showed no visible signs of injury, was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Neither the named nor the sex of the child have been disclosed by prosecutors or police.

The warrant for Cravens’ arrest states he initially told investigators he had taken the child in stroller and walked from the apartment at 1901 Knob Creek Road to The Mall at Johnson City at 2011 N. Roan St., at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 19 and returned to the apartment walking with the child in the stroller.

When confronted with video surveillance recordings that showed he entered the mall and several of its stores alone, Cravens admitted he left the child unattended at the apartment and walked to the mall alone but continued to maintain he interacted with the child after he returned.

Dunn charged Cravens with “gross deviation from the standard of care expected of him” under Tennessee’s child abuse/neglect statute.

McArdle said additional charges may be filed against Cravens pending the completion of an autopsy of the child.

Lincoln scheduled a preliminary hearing of the child/abuse neglect charge currently placed against him for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

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