It's been at least 20 years since the death penalty was sought in a Rhea County, Tenn., court, according to District Attorney Mike Taylor.
But, he said, that's what a number of Rhea County residents want for Jessica Robbins and Bradley Adcox, the couple accused of abusing Robbins' 5-year-old son Landon, ultimately to his death.
"I have received some calls from probably around a dozen people supporting the prosecution, saying 'We want to see justice done.' Words to that effect," Taylor said.
He is unsure whether the prosecution will file notice to pursue the death penalty against Robbins and Adcox but did not rule it out Wednesday afternoon.
The Rhea County grand jury handed down its indictments against Robbins, 29, and Adcox, 22, on Friday morning.
For Robbins, there are five felony charges: First-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, aggravated child endangerment and two counts of aggravated child abuse.
Adcox is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse.
Robbins faces an aggravated child endangerment charge because she "did unlawfully and knowingly fail to protect Landon Robbins, a child eight years of age or less, from abuse or neglect resulting in physical injury," according to court documents.
At a preliminary hearing for Robbins and Adcox in September, Rhea County Sheriff's Office Investigator Rocky Potter said Robbins admitted that the couple forced Landon to drink liquid soap and eat cigarette butts as punishment, primarily when he did not go to sleep on time.
On Aug. 30, Jessica Robbins called 911 to report Landon was not breathing. Emergency personnel arrived and found the boy dead.
According to Potter, further investigation indicated Landon was abused and died of "multiple blunt-force trauma" injuries.
Jessica Robbins' father Jerry Wells is among those calling for the death penalty. He is conflicted, but not over whether a death sentence is too severe a punishment.
"I'd like to see them get death, I really would, but I think death's too good for them," he said.
Wells attended the brief indictment hearing Friday morning at the Rhea County Courthouse. He said Robbins' not-guilty plea did not surprise him.
"They said they wasn't guilty. I expected that," he said.
Landon's younger sisters -- Brooklyn and Samantha -- are staying with Jerry Wells' other daughter, Tonya Wilson, along with her husband Mark and their three kids.
"They're struggling, but they'll make it," Wells said.
Robbins and Adcox are scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 3, 2014.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6731.
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