A 5-year-old girl is dead after drinking 2 liters of grape soda and an unknown amount of water in a two-hour time frame. Her parents have been formally charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse, given that the excessive fluid was an extreme punishment for "stealing" the mother's drink.
Randall Lee and Mary Lavonne Vaughn forced 5-year-old Alexa Linboom to drink a great deal of soda and water after she reportedly took some of Mary Lavonne's soda.
"They also failed to take care of the child once she was injured," Tennessee Attorney General Berkeley Bell told the Times-News. "Our position is it was a matter of several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralyzed state, and became unconscious."
They finally brought the girl to the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital after Alexa went unconscious. By that time, there was very little that doctors could do. She died two days after the incident, and an autopsy determined that the official cause of death was acute fluid intoxication causing hyonatremic encephalopathy.
"Allegedly the child, as a form of punishment, was forced to drink grape drinks, as well as a great deal of water, to the point that her body became water intoxicated. That led to her brain swelling and all of her systems shutting down, and to her eventual brain death. The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape drink. I don't know how much liquid she drank, but there was 4.5 12-ounce drinks plus water in-between," Bell added.
So far the attorney has not said whether he will seek the death penalty for the Vaughns. They are currently being held on $500,000 bond each and are scheduled to appear in court today.
"They treated this child so cruelly that it caused the child to die," Bell said. "I don't know if their intent was to kill the child, but their intent certainly was to harm the child."