Bond increased for mother accused of putting baby in freezer

Becky Campbell • Jan 17, 2019 at 6:48 PM

A family who found a baby in an inoperable freezer in their backyard and the mother hiding under their house testified earlier this week that they kept the child overnight after the woman left, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Brittany C. Smith, 19, of 311 Grande View Ext., Johnson City, was seen carrying a baby in the backyard of a residence on Poplar Hill Drive in Johnson City. The two locations are approximately six miles apart.

Deborah Presnell, who lives at 115 Poplar Hill Drive, testified at the hearing that it was around 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2 when she saw a woman who was holding a baby in her backyard. Presnell said her son and grandson went out to investigate and the woman was gone.

They looked around and found the 8-month-old baby in an old inoperable freezer and the woman was under their house. They took the woman, who turned out to be Smith, and the baby inside where they learned the woman wanted to leave the child with them.

“I asked her, ‘You want to leave the baby here?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You’re gonna be back now, aren’t you?’ She said, ‘Yes.’”

Presnell said the woman did leave but returned 12 hours later to get her baby. Presnell said she didn’t call 911 or DCS because of “the 24-hour Good Samaritan law that’s in every state. I knew whatever she was on, when she came off she’d come back for the baby. But she left. What’s the sense in calling 911. We just got a baby, we don’t have her.”

When Smith returned at 4 a.m. Presnell said they convinced her to call her mother, which she ultimately did.

“My son stated that baby wasn’t going nowhere. Either the grandma’s gotta be here or the cops are going to be here. One or the other,” she testified.

Ultimately, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene and Smith was arrested and the child was put in protective custody.

General Sessions Judge Don Arnold bound the case over to the grand jury and increased Smith’s bond to $100,000.

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