Babysitter's lawyer withdraws from case in death of Hixson toddler

Brandi Giannunzio
photo Brandi Giannunzio

During a Wednesday hearing before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman, Chattanooga attorney Hilary Hodgkins asked the court to excuse her from representing Brandi Giannunzio, saying she no longer wanted to be on the case.

"I feel like it would not be ethical for me to continue," Hodgkins told the court.

Giannunzio, 30, was the babysitter for 2-year-old Annie Burkett Shell, a Hixson toddler who died Aug. 9, 2018, after Giannunzio left the toddler with her fiance, Benjamin Brown, while she went to the Do or Dye Salon in Soddy-Daisy for a few hours.

Brown was arrested and charged with murder in connection to the child's death at their Soddy-Daisy home. After a six-day trial, a jury found Brown guilty in February of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in Shell's death.