Judge upholds parents' murder convictions in infant death

Becky Campbell • May 2, 2012 at 1:11 PM

A Washington County judge upheld murder convictions Wednesday for a man and woman whose baby died a week after the father dropped her.

Russell Long, 26, and Jessica Adkins, 23, were both convicted of first-degree felony murder by child abuse and neglect for their daughter, Kaylie Trinity Adkins, who died March 6, 2009, just a few days shy of 3 months old.

Adkins found her daughter wasn’t breathing when she checked on her that night after returning from work. Long was the child’s primary caregiver during that time because he was unemployed.

After the injury occurred, Adkins took her oldest daughter for a doctor’s visit, but said she talked to the physician about the baby, Kaylie, not eating well and throwing up. She also told investigators the doctor examined the child, but during the trial that doctor denied having examined Kaylie.

He said he only looked at her in passing and told Adkins to keep her on liquids. He also testified if he had known the child was dropped, he would have examined her and it would have been noted in the medical record.

Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp said he had no problem denying a motion for new trial for Long because Long is the one who caused the brain injury that ultimately killed the child.

Long also failed to tell Adkins that he had dropped the baby while giving her a bath and that she had rolled off a couch the same day.

But when it came to Adkins, Cupp’s initial comments gave some indication he might grant the motion for new trial because Adkins was held responsible for something she didn’t know happened.

But in the end, Cupp denied her motion as well.

“Ms. Adkins presented a different problem for me. You’ve got a situation where Mr. Long, circumstantially at least, did something to the child she didn’t know about and she’s saddled with that responsibility,” Cupp said.

It was the issue of “knowingly” on Adkins’ part that gave Cupp pause in making his decision.

He said after researching the issue he found an appellate case with similar circumstances and the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction in that case.

That, in part, is what helped Cupp make his decision to deny Adkins’ motion for a new trial.

Attorneys for both defendants — Jim Bowman for Adkins and Public Defender Jeff Kelly for Long — indicated they will file appeals with the CCA in the case.

Long and Adkins are serving life sentences for their convictions.

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