Tumlin child death trial resumes this morning

Tumlin child death trial resumes this morning

June 13th, 2012 by Todd South in News

Reginald Tumlin listens during jury selection for his trial Tuesday in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom. Tumlin has been charged with felony murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

In photo after photo, bruises, cuts and burn marks on the dead body of 3-year-old Jaylen Ramsey flashed on a projector screen.

The boy's father, Reginald Tumlin, 32, faced the images in Hamilton County Criminal Court on Tuesday, the first day of his trial on charges of felony murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Jury selection took place Tuesday morning. The trial, which resumes this morning in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom, is expected to last the week.

In opening statements, prosecutor Charlie Minor told jurors that Tumlin kept Jaylen from April 4, 2010, until his death on May 1, 2010. He asked that, as the trial progressed, the jury keep in mind a photo of a healthy Jaylen taken on Easter 2010.

"That's how he was dropped off with this man," Minor said. "Don't mistake it, this case isn't about him, the father ... it's about the boy."

Tumlin's attorney, Dan Ripper, quickly countered Minor's opening.

"It's about the boy because it tugs at your heartstrings," he said. "They lack proof.

"You don't convict somebody just because a crime, or an episode this bad, has happened," Ripper said. "You convict somebody because someone proved who did it."

Police arrested Tumlin in May 2010 on drug-related charges shortly after Jaylen died at Children's Hospital.

According to court records, Tumlin's girlfriend drove Jaylen to the hospital about 5 a.m. on May 1, 2010, when the boy complained of "stomach pain" and was "gasping for air."

The case's lead investigator, Chattanooga police Detective James Tate, testified that Tumlin told him he didn't go to the hospital because he was "worried that police or staff would see the boy's injuries."

An autopsy later showed more than 50 bruises on various parts of the toddler's face and body, numerous lacerations and a healing burn on the back of his left thigh.

The Hamilton County medical examiner's report listed "bowel perforation due to blunt force abdominal trauma" as the likely cause of death.