Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 20, 2014

Case of baby's death appears headed for trial

CROSSVILLE — Barring a last minute surprise by state prosecutors or a defense attorney, the death of an infant Cumberland County child appears headed for a jury with the case coming down to which side's expert medical witnesses a jury is going to believe.

William Allen Davenport was indicted by the Cumberland County Grand Jury in September 2011 on charges of felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of Destiny Davenport, a child who was only seven weeks old when she died.

She died at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga where she had been flown from Cumberland Medical Center after having been rushed there by ambulance.

About the only thing both sides agree on is that the case will center on medical records and interpretations of medical findings by experts who will be called to testify.

In a recent motion hearing, court-appointed defense attorney Douglas Dennis tried to pin down state prosecutors on key issues relating to evidence the state planned to introduce relating to the child's death.

The state is expected to put before jurors proof of a "shaken baby" cause of death and is expected to call medical personnel who treated the baby as well as a leading expert on shaken baby deaths.

Dennis countered that the baby lived for three days and that the child did not have any bruises or any evidence of obvious trauma on its body. Dennis is expected to push a defense of his client being a loving and caring guardian of the child and that the child suffered from a host of ailments including some caused by a traumatic birth.

"We need to know what mechanism for cause of death the state is going to pursue," Dennis argued, saying he needed time to prepare a defense for shaken baby syndrome or for death caused by impact injury.

He attacked a state medical examiner's findings, saying it took over seven months for the autopsy to be completed and that the state's assistant medical examiner sent her findings to another medical examiner for review before issuing a formal report.

Dennis also argued that there was a lot of injury caused to the baby during the process to save the child's life.

"A specific cause ... that we do not have," Dennis argued.

"The state has been as specific as we can be," Knight countered. "The cause of death in the autopsy was massive internal injuries ... blood in the spinal column, behind the eyes ... impact injury does not require outside trauma ... we feel it is up to the judge and the jury to decide all the facts."

Dennis again argued that the baby suffered from a "brain weave" that caused the injuries being cited by the state, but Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns agreed that the issue was for a jury to decide and declined to pin the state down on an exact cause as requested by Dennis.

"If there is a weakness, the state will have to deal with that and you will be able to exploit that weakness," Burns said.

Dennis also attempted to block from the jury medical records concerning the defendant's injuries that resulted in a workman's compensation lawsuit, and also the pain medication he was prescribed and taking during the time period when the child died.

Assistant District Attorney Caroline Knight countered that the defendant's state of mind could become an issue if the defendant testifies, and it was up to the jury to determine whether pain killers led to impairment and were somehow key to what happened.

In his final argument, Dennis again pushed forward the idea that it took a state medical examiner seven months to come up with a conclusion as to manner and cause of death. He expressed concerns that the final decision was influenced by investigators in the case and not by medical facts found during the autopsy.

Burns disagreed and moved the case forward toward a trial date, but did issue a cautionary comment that he would not want to be put in the position of having to decide on whether to issue a directive verdict after the jury heard the state's case.

It is anticipated it will take two to three days to present evidence in the case, and a trial date was set for July 28. Attorneys for both sides are expected to return to court on May 16 to give Burns a status report on their progress toward getting ready for trial.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • Shop tax free this weekend

    With the return to school right around the corner and Cumberland County students set to return to classrooms Aug. 6, Tennesseans are reminded they can buy certain items without paying sales tax Aug. 1 through Aug. 3.

    July 30, 2014

  • state park bath house.jpg Historic CMSP bathhouse gets new use with renovation

    When a new pool was constructed at Cumberland Mountain State Park in the 1980s, the beach area was converted to a quiet place to watch the water and the bath house was boarded up.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cole dismissed from teaching position

    The Cumberland County Board of Education voted 8-1 to dismiss tenured special education teacher Stephanie Cole, who remains at the Cumberland County Jail without bond charged with the July 20 fatal shooting of Louis Tammaro Jr.

    July 29, 2014

  • Crash sends one to jail, cyclist to UT

    A crash involving a motorcycle and a pickup truck resulted in one man being flown to a regional trauma center and the second man being arrested after he fled the scene, Crossville Police reported.

    July 29, 2014

  • County to include more meeting info on web site

    Cumberland County commissioners approved a change in the commission's rules which requires the full package of materials supplied to the commissioners to be posted on the county's web site.

    July 29, 2014

  • jobless june.jpg County jobless rate up for June

    County unemployment rates for June 2014 show the rate increased in all 95 counties of Tennessee. In Cumberland County, the jobless rate rose from 7.4 percent in May to 8.3 percent for June.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • lver-greg morris.jpg New veterans rep joins Career Center staff

    The Tennessee Career Center in Crossville now has more resources available to assist veterans seeking employment. The center recently hired Gregory Morris as a local veterans employment representative (LVER) to work with both unemployed veterans as well as employers seeking job applicants.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richard Lemert.jpg Lemert pays visit to Crossville

    Richard Milo Lemert, (left) great nephew of Milo Lemert of Crossville, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is pictured with L.T. Thurman Jr. It was Richard Lemert's first visit to Crossville and during his brief stay, he stopped by the Milo Lemert Building on Main St. and viewed the plaque that was placed in honor of his great uncle. Milo Lemert was married to Nell Snodgrass of Crossville and was killed in action on their first wedding anniversary. Thurman's father, Litton T. Thurman Sr., received the Distinguished Service Cross in the same WWI battle that Lemert was awarded the nation's highest honor. Richard Lemert resides in Raleigh, NC, and is planning to attend the Medal of Honor Convention in Knoxville Sept. 10-13.
     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2558.jpg Understanding the structure of addiction and recovery

    Bradford Health Services hosted a free workshop Friday for area agencies on the structure of addiction and recovery. Robbie Keeble who is recovery liaison for Bradford, was the featured speaker. With rates of substance abuse so prevalent in the Crossville area, several local agencies arranged to instruct participants on how addiction works in the brain and the process that those struggling with addiction need to take in order to recover successfully. There were 94 attendees in all, including several social service agencies, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, businesses and concerned citizens. If you are interested in attending or hosting a future training on matters related to substance abuse, contact Bradford Health Services at (931) 528-6803.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • TMSAA rules get one-year try out

    Changes are coming for the elementary sports programs next year, with a 6-3 vote of the Cumberland County Board of Education. That vote of support of recommendations from the athletic committee was met with concerns from board members that the move towards county-wide rules and regulations was an attempt to move toward middle school teams.

    July 28, 2014 1 Video

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014