A defendant in a first-degree murder case missed her scheduled court date after being rushed to Cumberland Medical Center and placed in intensive care as a result of a drug overdose.
Stephanie Ann Cole, 36, formerly of 1033 Ackia Dr., sometime prior to court Wednesday was taken to Cumberland Medical Center where she was treated for an overdose of what is believed to have been Benadryl, Sheriff Casey Cox confirmed yesterday.
Cole was found in her cell unconscious by a corrections officer performing an hourly cell check and an ambulance was called.
The sheriff stopped short of calling the incident a suicide attempt, but stated Cole would be placed on what is called a "suicide watch" and will be closely monitored after her reintroduction into a regular cell. This will include 30-minute around-the-clock cell checks by correction officers.
Cole is charged with the June 20, 2014, shooting of Louis Michael Tammaro II, 31, in the backyard at her Ackia Dr. home in the early morning hours. Cole and Tammaro had been involved in an on-again, off-again relationship that spanned about eight years, it was previously reported. Cole has pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to appear in court on the deadline docket when her attorney, Kevin Bryant of Crossville, announced she would not appear.
Judge David Patterson then said he understood there was a "medical" situation that resulted in Cole's absence.
Bryant responded that he would need a new court date and was anticipating filing motions for a mental health evaluation of his client.
When taken into custody at the scene, Cole reportedly told investigators she had taken several unidentified pills and was treated at CMC before being taken to the Justice Center and jailed. She was placed on a suicide watch after her incarceration at that time.
Several family members and friends of Tammaro were present in the courtroom when it was announced the case was being moved to April 20.
"We are not calling it a suicide attempt at this time, but we do have an opinion on it," Cox said yesterday. He added that all inmates are given access to Benadryl through the jail commissary and are only allowed to purchase six a week. It is believed that a quantity of the brand-named antihistamine medicine commonly used to fight allergies was kept and taken at one time.
"That won't happen again," Cox said.
Bryant has filed several motions in the case, most centering around evidence against his client. While these motions are commonly filed in criminal cases, most are being complied with through the District Attorney's Office's "open file" policy for defense attorneys.
Bryant has specifically asked for a list of all evidence seized from the scene and the residence.
Bryant is expected to file additional motions leading up to the April 20 court date. It has been custom in past cases for those motions to be reviewed in court by the judge to determine which have been complied with and to then set another date at which time remaining motions will be argued.