Couple charged with child abuse and murder
A Tennessee man and his wife are facing child abuse and first-degree murder charges after forcing the man’s 5-year-old daughter to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water.
An investigation revealed the young girl was forced to drink approximately 2.4 liters of water and soda in less than two hours as punishment for taking grape soda from her father, Randall Lee Vaughn, 41, and his wife, Mary Lavonne Vaughn, 58.
“She was allegedly force-fed so much liquid that it caused the sodium level in her body to go down and caused her brain to swell,” District Attorney Berkley Bell said.
The girl’s parents took her to the emergency room when she became unresponsive on New Year’s Day 2012.
According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the girl’s autopsy report, she was brought in to the emergency room blue and unresponsive with “an abnormal body posture that indicated severe brain damage.”
Two days later, she was declared brain dead and taken off life support.
The girl was moved to Tennessee to live with her father due to allegations of abuse at her previous home, according to the autopsy.
“Some of the things that brought enjoyment to her life was coloring, playing with her Barbie dolls, her love of animals, but her most joy came when playing with her brothers and sisters,” an obituary for the child stated.
The Vaughns have been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse and will face trial in October 2014 for the death of their daughter.
The couple did not enter a plea, and each is being held on a $500,000 bond.