AG Bell Says 8-Month-Old Girl
Died As Result Of 'Violent Trauma';
Bond Is Set At $1,000,000 Each
BY KEN LITTLE
The parents of an 8-month-old baby girl who died under suspicious circumstances last September were arrested Friday by the Greene County Sheriff's Department and charged with first-degree murder.
Stephen Allen Jennings, 23, of 620 Greene Mountain Road, and Pooja Pari Jennings, 23, of 113 Locust St.; were also charged with counts of aggravated child neglect
Stephen Jennings was additionally charged with aggravated child abuse.
Bond for each defendant is set at $1 million.
They are charged in connection with the death Sept. 18, 2012, of Abby Leeann Jennings.
Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services responded to a call at 5:51 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, to 1416 Fairview Road in the Chuckey community "due to (an) 8-month-old baby not breathing and suspicious circumstances involved," a Sheriff's Department report filed two days later said.
Pooja Jennings lived at the address in September, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) news release said.
Third Judicial District Attorney General Berkeley Bell said in late September that Abby Jennings suffered "violent trauma" and died as a result of brain injuries.
The baby arrived at Laughlin Memorial Hospital "in very bad condition" and was placed on life support, Bell said. She was taken off life support the next day.
At Laughlin Memorial Hospital, it was determined that Abby Jennings "had bruising on various parts of her body and was unresponsive," the TBI release said.
"That same day, she was transported to Johnson City Medical Center and died on Sept. 18," the release said.
"Witnesses advised Abby had bruising on her body and was lethargic after returning from visiting her father Stephen in his Greeneville residence on Sept. 14," the TBI release stated.
Pooja Jennings did not seek medical treatment for the baby "after she was returned to her residence and in her care throughout the weekend," the release said.
The couple is married, but are separated and not living together, the release said.
The Third Judicial District Attorney's Office requested that the TBI investigate the case with the Greene County Sheriff's Department.
CAUSE OF DEATH
After EMS arrived at the Fairview Road residence, Abby Jennings "was breathing with help from being intubated, but pupils were unresponsive to lights," the Sheriff's Department report said.
The infant also had some bruising, described as being "in various stages," and "what appeared to be a bite mark" on her left arm.
Deputies were called to Laughlin Memorial Hospital at the request of hospital employees after the employees assessed the baby's condition.
Sheriff's Department detectives and the Tennessee Department of Children's Services were then notified.
Stephen Jennings is scheduled to appear July 31 in Greene County General Sessions Court, according to his arrest warrant.
Abby Jennings would have been 1 year old on Jan. 18, 2013.
"The child was subjected to violent trauma," Bell said in September. "We are, of course, looking, and doing an investigation. There are suspects."
The Greene County Grand Jury handed up indictments on Wednesday.
An autopsy on Abby Jennings was performed at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine. Bell said in late September that the case was being investigated as a homicide.
Bell did not return a message Friday night seeking comment.