A trial date of June 25 has been set for a Crossville woman charged with child abuse, neglect or endangerment after a child was found by Crossville Police unattended in a stroller in a residential area in November 2018.

Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie denied defense attorney Jeff Vires’ motion to suppress any statements given to police on the day of the incident, stating Billie Christine Hayes had not been given her Miranda warning.

The Miranda warning is a notification given by police to criminal suspects in police custody advising them of their right to remain silent, to refuse to answer questions and/or to have an attorney present during questioning.

Vires’ argument before the court was that city police did not give a Miranda warning at the scene or later at the hospital when Hayes was asked how a 1 1/2-year-old child had been left outside in a stroller unattended.

Crossville Police Ptl. Keith Sadula testified he was one of the city officers who responded to Oak Grove St. to a Nov. 7, 2018, report of a child strapped in a stroller with no adults around.

He said Hayes walked onto the scene about 25 minutes after he arrived. An ambulance was called to make sure the child was OK. 

Sadula testified he attended school with Hayes and knew her when he struck up a conversation in an attempt to learn what had caused the child to be left alone.

Sadula said Hayes “volunteered” to answer questions and said that she and her boyfriend had become involved in a dispute. 

“I was trying to figure out the story,” he testified.

An audio recording of the encounter was entered into the record.

Under questioning from Vires, Sadula told the court that four officers eventually arrived at the scene. He also said the child was found chained to the stroller frame and was under blankets.

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Investigator Jennifer Hall also testified.

Hall said she was called to the hospital where she met with CPD Det. Al Wilson. She testified Hayes was asked if it was OK to discuss the incident, and Hayes agreed.

That conversation was also recorded.

Vires argued that Hayes felt she was not able to leave, that she was suffering from a  medical issue that might have interfered with her judgment and that the interview of his client was lengthy.

Assistant District Attorney Philip Hatch countered that Hayes was never arrested or placed in restraints, was free to move around and that the questioning was information gathering and, at that time, Hayes was not subject to a criminal investigation.

McKenzie ruled that evidence showed Hayes was not surrounded by police and was not ordered to go anywhere relating to the investigation. 

He also said the Child Protective Services interview by Hall “was not accusatory.”

He then denied Vires’ motion to suppress statements made by Hayes during the two encounters with investigators and set a trial date.

 

Michael Moser may be reached at mmoser@crossville-chronicle.com