Alexa Linboom. Contributed photo.
ROGERSVILLE — Attorney General Berkeley Bell hasn’t ruled out the possibility of seeking the death penalty for a Surgoinsville couple accused of killing 5-year-old Alexa Linboom in 2012 by forcing her to drink an excessive amount of grape soda and water.
The alleged forced intake of fluid was alleged to be punishment for the girl taking a grape soda after being told not to.
The child’s father, Randall Vaughn, 41, and stepmother Mary Vaughn, 58, both of 319 Ridge Haven Drive, Surgoinsville, were arraigned Friday in Hawkins County Criminal Court.
Both were named Monday in sealed Hawkins County grand jury indictments charging them each with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse.
The charges carry a potential sentence of life without parole or the death penalty.
Judge John Dugger set a trail date of Oct. 30 for the couple, and a pretrial hearing was set for April 30.
Dugger appointed the public defender’s office to represent Mary Vaughn.
Randall Vaughn told the judge he will hire an attorney.
The couple did not enter a plea.
According to the autopsy report, on Jan. 1, 2012, the Vaughns forced Alexa Linboom to drink about 2.4 liters of soda and water over a one- to two-hour span as punishment. The massive liquid intake caused her brain to swell and herniate.
The couple allegedly failed to seek medical attention for Linboom for several hours after she first screamed in pain and then fell into a paralyzed state and unconsciousness.
On Jan. 1, 2012, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office was notified that 5-year-old Alexa Linboom was brought to the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital emergency room in Rogersville unresponsive by Randall and Mary Vaughn.
She was airlifted the same day to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, where she passed away on Jan. 3, 2012.
The Vaughns are jailed on $500,000 bond each.
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