NEW TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WATE) — A New Tazewell couple has been charged with criminal homicide in the November 1, 2022 death of a three-year-old.
Aaron Justin Smith, 30, and Alexis Shianne Payne, 26, were charged on Thursday while they were in custody on aggravated child abuse charges. The new charges were first reported by WRIL.
New Tazewell police responded to a residence on Heritage Road to investigate and assist with a three-year-old boy who was choking on Friday, October 28, Police Chief Ben Evans said. A neighbor had called 911 and was administering CPR.
Smith, the child’s father, told police that the boy had fallen and was found unresponsive. The investigation determined that the boy’s injuries were not consistent with a single fall.
Chief Evans stated the child had multiple bruises to his face, spine, buttocks, head, legs, and arms, The child’s condition did not improve after he was examined at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
He died on November 1. Following an autopsy, the death was ruled a homicide.
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Investigators found that the 3-year-old had only been in the care of Smith and his live-in girlfriend at the time, Alexis Payne. Investigators said both gave inconsistent statements to law enforcement.
Smith and Payne were charged with criminal homicide and are being held on a $1,000,000 cash bonds in the Claiborne County Jail.