Father charged in Marion County infant death fighting extradition

Father charged in Marion County infant death fighting extradition

August 13th, 2014 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Christopher Eugene Russell

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The father charged last week in Marion County, Tenn., in the 2012 death of his 3-month-old son is fighting extradition from Georgia where he lives.

Chris Russell, 25, of Rocky Face, Ga., is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, according to a Marion County grand jury indictment. He was arrested last Wednesday in Whitfield County on a fugitive from justice warrant, and continues to be held there.

Russell remained the only "person of interest" throughout the investigation into the death of Russell's infant son, Colin Russell. Autopsy reports say the child died of "injuries consistent with repeated non-accidental trauma and a diagnosis of battered child syndrome."

On Aug. 7, Russell went for his first appearance before a local judge and returned again on Aug. 8 when he refused to sign an extradition waiver, according to Whitfield authorities.

Russell had no attorney listed yet to represent him in proceedings, jail officials said.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Tuesday that authorities on the Tennessee side are beginning the extradition procedures now.

"It's a two-step process," Taylor said.

"We'll have to apply to Gov. [Bill] Haslam's office for a rendition request to the governor of Georgia," Taylor said. "Then Gov. Haslam requests that the Georgia governor issue a rendition warrant."

Russell has a right to a hearing to contest the Georgia rendition warrant.

There is no immediate time line for the procedure, but Tennessee officials have 90 days to get their paperwork completed, Taylor said.

Meantime, Russell will remain in the Whitfield County Jail.

"They denied him bond because [his charge] is a potential capital offense," Taylor said.

The investigation into Colin Russell's death began the day he stopped breathing and was taken by ambulance to Jasper, Tenn.'s Grandview Medical Center, June 17, 2012. He was stabilized and sent to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville for further treatment.

Colin died after the family decided to discontinue life support June 23, 2012.

According to a 12-page autopsy report, pathologist Dr. Bridget B. Eutenier noted contusions on the child's head, injuries that included blood clotting in several areas of his brain and "extensive" hemorrhaging in the optic nerves of both eyes.

Colin had at least 15 fractures of his ribs, a fractured right clavicle and a ligament injury on his spine that appeared to have been healing when he died, the reports states.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com, twitter.com/BenBenton, www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.