Tenn. parents accused of force-feeding girl huge amounts of soda face murder charges

(CNN) — A Tennessee couple faces murder charges for allegedly punishing the man’s 5-year-old daughter by making her gulp excessive amounts of water and grape soda, leading to her death, authorities said.

Alexa Linboom was forced to guzzle the fluids after she took “one or two grape drinks” that belonged to her stepmother, District Attorney Berkley Bell told CNN affiliate WJHL.

“She was allegedly force-fed so much liquid that it caused the sodium level in her body to go down and caused her brain to swell,” he said.

In addition to drinking more than 2 liters of fluids in about two hours, she also suffered other forms of punishment, Bell told the affiliate. He did not get into specifics.

The child became unresponsive, and the pair drove her to the hospital on New Year’s Day in 2012.

Two days later, she was declared brain dead and removed from life support.

A two-year investigation determined her death was a homicide as a result of acute fluid/water intoxication, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement this week.

Randall Lee Vaughn, 41, and and his wife, Mary Lavonne Vaughn, 58, have each been charged with first degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse.

The Surgoinsville residents are being held on a $500,000 bond. They did not enter a plea in their first appearance before a judge Friday, CNN affiliate WREG reported.

Information on their attorneys was not immediately available.

Their trial is scheduled to start in October.

CNN’s Rick Martin contributed to this report

4 comments

    • sw

      That’s not necessarily true Dustin. I do believe they can have a case for 2nd degree murder. Here is the definition. #2 describes this case pretty good.

      Second Degree Murder: Definition Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as: 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable “heat of passion”; or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

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