By Max HrendaNearly 14 months after an 8-month-old boy died, his parents were arrested on attempted child abuse charges after police alleged they exposed their son to methamphetamine.
On Friday, Elizabethton Police Department officers arrested Jeffery Mark McLaughlin, 26, and Stephanie Diane Bowman, 22, both of 1277 Bluefield Ave. Apartment G4, Elizabethton, on warrants accusing them of attempted aggravated child abuse of their son, Aiden McLaughlin.
Although McLaughlin and Bowman were arrested on attempted child abuse charges, District Attorney General Tony Clark and Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks agree that Aiden’s death was not related to his exposure to methamphetamine, and thus did not warrant a murder charge.
“There’s no link between the meth and the baby’s death,” Clark said. “It could have been in the womb, in the home, or someone else bringing it near the baby. The meth itself, according to the toxicologist, in no way contributed to the baby’s death.”
“It’s a tough case,” Brooks said. “You have a dead baby, and you want to do something about it. But … sometimes crimes don’t fit.”
In a press release issued Wednesday, EPD Capt. Joy Markland said the arrests stemmed from an incident on Nov. 20, 2012, when police officers and Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad personnel responded to a 911 call of an unresponsive infant, who they later learned was Aiden. Aiden was taken to Sycamore Shoals Hospital for treatment, but later died.
According to Clark, forensic pathologists determined that Aiden died from some type of head trauma, though he said they could not specify as to how he received the trauma.
“I think the statements from these individuals were that the baby had fallen maybe from a bed or a couch,” Clark said. “There’s no way to verify that. We only have what the defendants have told the police.”