Officers testify in Child Abuse case
CHATTANOOGA, TN – The mother of a baby who died in a hot car in Chattanooga last week, stood before a judge today.
As of now, Jessica Tollett is charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse, but that could change.
Jessica Tollett listened on as officers testified in her child abuse case.
Earlier this month, Tollett’s 11-month-old daughter, Kiara, was found dead in a hot car.
Police have charged the father, Travis McCullough in connection to that. But this launched an investigation into how her three children were cared for.
The two other children were at the scene and taken to the hospital.
“It appeared they had not been bathed recently. Now when they were brought food by the hospital, they seemed to be very protective of the food, they ate it fairly quickly,” said SVU Investigator Christopher Grafe, with the Chattanooga Police Department.
After leaving the hospital, investigators went to the couple’s home at College Hill Courts. The judge and lawyers looked over pictures of what was found.
“Walking straight back into the room, which was the worst room in the house. It had a couch that looked like it had been torn up, in my opinion by a dog. From my experience it looked like feces all over the ground,” Grafe said.
This isn’t the first time Tollett and McCullough have been investigated for child abuse. It happened back in 2012, but charges against them for that were dismissed.
A police sergeant described what the motel they were living in at that time was like.
“Once inside the room the infant was asleep on one of the mattresses. It didn’t have any sheets on it. There was a comforter partially covering his face. I immediately moved that off his face. His face was dirty, his clothes were dirty, the infant also had a heavily soiled diaper. You could tell it hadn’t been changed in a while,” Sergeant Jamie Barrow, with the Chattanooga Police Department.
Tollett’s lawyer and Prosecutors agree the charges against her should be changed.
“The highest charge that Ms. Tollett should receive in this case is attempt child neglect,” said Erinn O’Leary, a public defender.
But they disagree on what the new charge should be.
“We can say that judging by this defendant’s prior knowledge of how horribly she was keeping her one kid at that time in 2012, to how she is keeping all three of her kids and even in worse condition now that could certainly rise to serious bodily injury at some point,” prosecutor Boyd Patterson said.
The judge will make a decision about the charges on Wednesday morning.