Woman charged with murder of 18-month-old granddaughter

Oak Ridge woman charged with murder of 18-month-old granddaughter

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Valerie Stenson (source: Anderson County Sheriff's Office) Valerie Stenson (source: Anderson County Sheriff's Office)

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - Prosecutors are likely to seek the death penalty for an Oak Ridge woman accused in the death of her 18-month old granddaughter.

Valerie Stenson, 47, was arrested Wednesday on charges that she killed her 18-month-old granddaughter last year. She was taken into custody at her Teller Village apartment.

The Anderson County Grand Jury indicted Stenson on March 6 on a first degree murder charge along with four counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Stenson's granddaughter, Manhattan Inman, died in April 2011. Police began an investigation of the death the same month.

The indictments say Stenson is accused of causing "serious bodily injury' to the child along with subjecting her to the use of a deadly weapon or a controlled substance.

District Attorney General Dave Clark says in order for a death penalty to be pursued, the facts of the case have to meet distinct factors laid out by the state.

"Some of the factors include whether two or more persons or endangered, whether the person was endangered during the course of the homicide, the age of the victim," Clark said.

Clark says he can't discuss the details of the case at this time, but prosecutors will determine whether the evidence in the case will warrant the death penalty.

"It will be those factors and the facts of the case that we will rely on for making a decision," Clark said.

He says that more often than not, the state actually decides not to seek the death penalty. The state's decision in this case is expected within one week.

Currently there's just one woman on Tennessee's death row. Christa Pike was convicted of first degree murder and sent to death row in 1996.

Stenson is being held in the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $1 million. She was in court Friday morning for her arraignment and was appointed an attorney.

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