Man guilty in death of Hixson 2-year-old

Benjamin Brown / Photo courtesy Hamilton County Sheriff's Office
photo Benjamin Brown / Photo by Hamilton County Sheriff's Office

A Hamilton County jury Monday found 30-year-old Benjamin Brown guilty of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the death of a Hixson toddler, according to a news release from the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office.

Brown was initially charged with felony murder and aggravated child abuse.

(READ MORE: Hixson man charged with murder in connection to child's death in Soddy-Daisy)

The victim, 2-year-old Annie Burkett Shell, died in 2018.

At the time, the girl and her sister lived with their grandparents. But on the day of the incident, Aug. 9, 2018, they were in the care of Brandi Giannunzio, who left the two with her boyfriend, Brown, while she went to a salon.

According to an autopsy by Hamilton County medical examiner Dr. James Metcalfe, Shell died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest, injuries caused by repeated blows. The release states that her sister also had swelling and bruises.

Brown alleged Shell had a seizure while he was babysitting, and his defense argued the girl could have been injured prior to coming into his care.

(READ MORE: Jury will consider man's own testimony in charges he shook Hixson baby to death)

Brown testified he called Giannunzio twice asking her to come home and didn't call 911 himself because he didn't know any of the child's personal information. After rushing home, Giannuzio called police. Shell was hospitalized and died Aug. 21.

Brown is free on bond until his sentencing, set for April 27.

- Compiled by Tierra Hayes