An update to the story involving the death of a 17 month old child. A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation predication letter from District Attorney Russell Johnson was released yesterday that criticized the work of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department in regards to the investigation. The letter, which can be viewed here, states that the possible crime scene was not preserved, no evidence was collected and that an investigator was not assigned to perform any further investigation, despite the occurrence of a suspicious death. Chief Deputy Steve Cochran says, there wasn’t much of a scene to preserve.
Cochran: “As far as the crime scene, the officer that was there, he got statements from everybody that was there. The child didn’t have any kind of blunt trauma, no blood, nothing like that, no marks on it. So, the crime scene, what you would normally see on tv or like what we go to with blood splatter or anything like that, any kind of trauma, there was nothing like that. The officer said that he didn’t see any kind of cookies, nothing that was obstructing the airway or anything like that. So, basically right then, the crime scene was the child. It was the child.”
The letter also stated that the medical examiner Dr. William Bennett had contacted Sheriff Glen Freytag to implore him to send an investigator back to the scene, According to the sheriff and a statement issued to WECO from the district attorney, Bennett never actually talked to Freytag, just someone within the Sheriff’s department, which makes that particular statement from the letter false. Cochran said that there is no history of a feud between the sheriff’s office and the DA’s office, so there’s only one reason he can think the letter would come out now.
Cochran: “I think the predication letter was issued for political reasons. Why else would it be? There’s an ongoing death investigation of a 17-month-old, and we’ve never had a problem before. Why now? Why two months before an election? Nobody’s running against him, so he can do whatever he wants to do. There’s no recourse against that.”
In the DA’s statement issued to WECO, which can also be viewed by clicking the thumbnail below this story, Johnson says that he still has great personal respect for the sheriff, despite taking issue with how he feels about the involvement of the sheriff’s department during the incident. Cochran wants the attention of this case to go back where he feels like it belongs.
Cochran: “What’s sad is, you have a 17-month-old baby boy that should be the focal point of this investigation, instead of this letter when there’s a murder investigation going on.”
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DA’s Statement to WECO: