Local authorities have not filed charges in the June death of a 3-month-old Marion County infant, but an investigation is ongoing, prosecutors say.
District Attorney, Mike Taylor, of the 12th Judicial District, said in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Friday that investigators are still waiting for autopsy reports on the infant, and want to meet with medical officials from Vanderbilt University Medical Center before they decide whether charges are warranted.
The father of the infant, Chris Russell, 23, remains a “person of interest” in the case, Taylor said.
Attempts to contact Russell or the baby’s mother, Leah Collins, 24, were not successful. The mother has not been named as a person of interest, officials said.
Authorities say no other children live with the couple in their Sequatchie, Tennessee home, and neither parent has a prior criminal history or child safety issues.
The couple have no other children together, although Russell is father of a toddler from another relationship. There have been “no issues” related to that child, authorities said.
Taylor said both parents initially agreed to a polygraph test but since have refused to take one. Officials said test results would be inadmissible in court but might provide helpful information.
The probe began in June after an emergency call from family members when the infant stopped breathing the afternoon of June 17th.
The child first was taken to Grandview Medical Center, stabilized, then transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. There doctors found what they characterized as “major trauma” to the baby’s brain, according to Sheriff Bo Burnett.
The baby died after the family decided to discontinue life support on June 23rd.
Marion County Detective Beth Schindel, the primary investigator on the case, said early on that medical scans and an MRI exam performed before the baby died showed he had retinal hemorrhaging and brain trauma, injuries similar to those found in cases of shaken baby syndrome.
They also found fractured ribs that were at least 10 days old, and the baby had been throwing up — a possible sign of brain injury — for a few days before he stopped breathing, the detective said.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press