Johnson City man charged in child’s death to face grand jury

Becky Campbell • Nov 6, 2013 at 10:36 PM

A Johnson City man police say contributed to the death of his girlfriend’s 16-month-old son was bound over to a grand jury following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Jonathan Cravens, 27, was arrested in early October after police investigators determined it was his neglect of the child that led to the death on Aug. 19. During the investigation, officers learned Cravens — who took care of Alex Hubbard while the boy’s mother worked — walked from the Knob Creek Road apartment they shared to the mall to get his glasses repaired.

Cravens first told police he pushed the child in a stroller to the mall, but surveillance footage proved him wrong. The child was not seen on any footage in which Cravens appeared, police said.

Investigator Joey Whitlock testified Wednesday that Cravens stayed with his initial story even after officers saw him on mall video alone. Eventually Cravens told police he left the boy in his crib in an upstairs bedroom and returned from the mall within 15 minutes.

Cravens told police he checked on the boy when he returned, then went downstairs. After a while, he realized he hadn’t heard anything from the child and went to check again. That’s when he found the boy unresponsive and called 911.

Washington County/Johnson City EMS paramedic William Timbs testified that when he arrived he found the child on the floor unresponsive and Cravens performing CPR. The boy had saliva around his mouth from the CPR and a dark material on his chin, which he was told was Oreo cookie, Timbs testified.

Dusti Paul, Alex’s mother, testified she and Cravens had lived together since late June and he had been taking care of her son the two weeks prior to Alex’s death.

Paul testified that the day her son died she and Cravens exchanged several messages through Facebook.

“He said he and Alex walked to the mall. He was going to get his glasses fixed,” she testified. That was around 10:30 a.m. Around 1 p.m. Cravens called her and told her to get to the hospital.

“He said it was Alex. That’s all he said,” Paul testified.

In binding the case to the grand jury, Sessions Judge Don Arnold said Cravens’ actions met the criteria for neglect, but he didn’t believe the state had evidence at this point that the neglect led to Alex’s death.

Assistant District Attorney General Michael Rasnake said the autopsy was not complete so he could not say what caused the child’s death.

Arnold ruled that because the child was left alone and because the child was under age 8, there was enough probable cause to send the case to a grand jury on a felony child neglect charge.

Arnold reduced Cravens’ bond from $50,000 to $25,000, but Public Defender Phillip Ratliff said his client won’t be able to post that. Cravens will appear in Criminal Court later this year.

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