Submitted by Nancy Morris
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Prosecutors continue presentation of their murder case against a Bradley County woman in the death of her young sons.
The state presented its first half-dozen witnesses on Tuesday, August 27, in Cleveland, where 27-year-old Tasha Bates is being tried on charges of felony murder, aggravated child abuse and methamphetamine violations.
Bates’ sons — 5-year-old Leland and 3-year-old River — died in June 2012 after, according to authorities, they were left inside their mother’s car on a day that reached 101 degrees. The judge has decided against allowing prosecutors to show jurors photos of the two little boys who had died in the car, calling them “devastating.”
The jury has had to sit through the graphic accounts of how both boys’ breaths faltered and heartbeats lagged in 120-degree temperatures inside the car, while their young mother was fast asleep inside the nearby building.
Bates has told officials that she left the children outside unattended on a Slip’n Slide water toy in the 101-degree heat, and when she found them 45 minutes later, they were unconscious.
But Bradley County sheriff’s investigators and a grand jury have stated otherwise. They say the boys’ autopsies show they suffered fatal injuries in a searing hot car, and police said evidence showed that Bates had cooked and used meth
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, attorneys don’t disagree on how the boys died, but sharply differ about whether Bates was responsible for exposing them to danger.
Defense lawyer Richard Hughes told jurors evidence would show his client acted irresponsibly and made poor decisions, but was innocent of murder.