logo



UPDATE: DA says mother knowingly failed to protect 3-year-old son before death in Carter Co.

John Thompson • Updated Mar 14, 2017 at 1:11 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A second arrest has been made in the death of 3-year-old Ja’Kari La’Drell Phillips in November.

The child’s mother, Ayonjaleea Shametriauna Phillips, 26, 717 Radford Place, Knoxville, was arrested in Knoxville Monday afternoon and transported back to Carter County after a grand jury met earlier in the day and found a true bill on a charge of aggravated child endangerment.

The boy’s stepfather had already been charged with the child’s murder.

In the presentment to the grand jury, District Attorney General Tony Clark said Phillips committed the offense by “knowingly exposing her son … to or knowingly failing to protect the child from abuse or neglect resulting in physical injury to the child and such injury constituted a serious bodily injury.”

Clark said the offenses took place between Oct. 14 and Nov. 18.

Phillips was held in the Carter County Jail on a $100,000 bond with a Carter County Criminal Court appearance set for April 6.

Phillips’ arrest comes four months after the child’s stepfather, Demetrius Deshawn Covington, 28, was charged with first-degree murder in the death. Covington disappeared after the death of the boy and was captured Nov. 23 in Dayton, Ohio. He was transported back to Carter County on Dec. 2 and held without bond pending trial.

According to the arrest warrant, Covington was taking care of the child on Nov.18 while Phillips was at work. Covington called her and told her she needed to come home because Ja’Kari had fallen in the bathtub and was injured.

The mother told police she arrived at her residence and found the child having difficulty breathing and decided to take him to the emergency room. She was en route when JaKari’s breathing became much worse. She phoned 911 for help. As a result, she stopped the car and began administering CPR.

Police officers quickly responded to the 911 call and took over administering CPR until the boy could be taken to the hospital. The child was initially listed in critical condition.

Elizabethton Police Department Investigator Christopher Bowers said “upon observation, Phillips was found to have numerous bruises over his face, neck, torso, back, bottom, legs and foot.” He said the child became unresponsive and was placed on life support.

The warrant reported medical testing revealed “the child had internal injuries, including swelling in the brain and a subdural hematoma. The injuries suffered by the child were considered non-accidental trauma and were not self inflicted.”

———

ELIZABETHTON — A woman was arrested Monday on a charge related to the death of her 3-year-old son in Carter County last November. The boy’s stepfather had already been charged with the child’s murder.

A Carter County Grand Jury recently indicted AyonJaleea Phillips, 26, Knoxville, with aggravated child endangerment in the injury and death of Ja’Kari La’Drell Phillips.

She was held in the Carter County Jail on a $100,000 bond with a Carter County Criminal Court appearance set for April 6.

The boy was pronounced dead on Nov. 22 after being hospitalized four days earlier. The mother took Ja’Kari to a local hospital after finding the child having trouble breathing on Nov. 18.

Demetrius Deshawn Covington, 28, disappeared after the incident, prompting a nationwide manhunt. He was captured Nov. 23 in Dayton, Ohio, and charged with first-degree murder. He was returned to Carter County custody on Dec. 2.

The mother told police she had left the boy with Covington while she went to work on Nov. 18. AyonJaleea Phillips said she was at work when Covington called her and asked her to come home because Ja’Kari had fallen in the bathtub and was injured. She told police she arrived at her residence and found the child having difficulty breathing and decided to take him to the emergency room. She was en route when Ja’Kari’s breathing became much worse. She phoned 911 for help. As a result, she stopped the car and began administering CPR.

EPD Investigator Christopher Bowers said “upon observation, Phillips was found to have numerous bruises over his face, neck, torso, back, bottom, legs and foot.” He said the child became unresponsive and was placed on life support.

The warrant for Covington reported that medical testing revealed “the child had internal injuries, including swelling in the brain and a subdural hematoma. The injuries suffered by the child were considered non-accidental trauma and were not self inflicted.”

Covington was held without bond pending trial.

Note: The Carter County Sheriff’s Office previously listed the woman’s name as “AyonKaleea” in a news release. That spelling has been changed to reflect the spelling listed on the court record and in jail booking records.

Recommended for You