Chattanooga parents charged in child's death remain free on bond

Chattanooga parents charged in child's death remain free on bond

September 20th, 2011 by Todd South in News

Thomas and Samantha Wallace await their bond hearing Monday in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom. Their bond did not change and they remained free. They are charged with criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Camron Michelle Dawn Wallace, 2, died after being shot in the chest by her 6-year-old stepbrother.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

Theft, vandalism, drug and assault charges against a couple charged in the death of their 2-year-old daughter were not enough to send them back to jail.

Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Charlie Minor had asked Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern to raise or revoke the bond for Thomas and Samantha Wallace, whose trial date is Jan. 17, 2012. They are free on $2,500 bonds each.

Minor argued Monday that the couple's behavior while free on bond in Marion County required they be detained again.

After a half-hour hearing Monday in which the alleged victim of the vandalism, theft and assault testified, Stern ruled that the pending charges were not sufficient to put the couple back in custody.

"This is a mess between all of these people," Stern said. "I do not find it a basis to raise or revoke a bond."

The Wallaces each face a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the accidental shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter Camron Wallace.

Camron died moments after her 5-year-old stepbrother shot her in the chest with a .45-caliber pistol that he'd picked up from Thomas Wallace's nightstand on July 12, 2010.

Stephanie Bryant testified Monday that she had allowed Thomas, 23, and Samantha, 26, to live in her Marion County mobile home in September or October 2010, shortly after their daughter's death.

From that time until March 2011, Bryant said, arguments grew between her and the couple, who were not paying rent, and she asked them to leave. Problems reached a head on March 19, when Bryant and the Wallaces got into a fight. Police were called and arrested the couple, Bryant and her boyfriend.

Thomas and Samantha Wallace were released from jail earlier than her, Bryant said, and before she could get back to the home, the Wallaces had vandalized the trailer and stolen some of her property.

"It was completely empty of furniture, pictures, everything," Bryant testified.

The Wallaces were in the courtroom with their attorneys, but didn't testify.

During the Monday hearing, Steve Brown referred to a letter that claimed the Marion County charges against the Wallaces would be dismissed next week.

Bryant said after the hearing that was the first time she had heard the charges would not be pursued.

Contact Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347.