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New Tazewell Couple charged with homicide in the death of a 3-year-old child

From WRIL -

A child is dead and his father and girlfriend are being held responsible. New Tazewell Police Lt. Gary Ruszkowski states in citations that on Friday, October 28, 2022, the police department responded to a Heritage Road residence to investigate and assist in a choking incident involving a 3-year-old male child.

Officers were told a neighbor was administering CPR and shortly after their arrival, the child was transported to Claiborne County Hospital. Still unresponsive the child was intubated.

The child’s father, 30-year-old Aaron Justin Smith, reported to New Tazewell Officer Bill Baumgardner that the boy had fallen while eating and was then found unresponsive. Smith also stated that his live-in girlfriend, 26-year-old Alexis Shianne Payne, had left the residence prior to the incident.

Through the investigation it was determined that the child’s injuries were inconsistent with a single fall. The citation states that the child had multiple bruises to his face, spine, buttocks, head, legs, and arms. After an examination at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville the child’s condition was not improving and he passed away on November 1, 2022.

After an autopsy was performed on November 2 at the Regional Forensic Center in Knox County, it determined the manner of death of the child was homicide. The investigation ruled that the boy had only been in the care of Smith and Payne who both provided inconsistent statements that would not explain the events of October 28th.

Aaron Smith and Alexis Payne have both been charged with Criminal Homicide and are being held on $1,000,000 cash bonds in the Claiborne County Jail.

(mugshots courtesy of the Claiborne County Jail)

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