A man in Rhea County, Tennessee, is behind bars on felony charges related to injuries, including a fracture, that were found last Friday on a 10-month-old child.
James Earl Alexander, 47, is charged with aggravated child abuse, resisting arrest and public intoxication, and is being held on a $100,000 bond, Rhea County Sheriff's Office investigator Rocky Potter said Thursday. He faces a preliminary hearing on Jan. 22 in General Sessions Court. Dayton police filed the two misdemeanor charges.
Alexander previously resided in Bradley County, Tennessee, and in Georgia, Potter said, and had moved to Rhea County about two months ago.
"He was left in charge of a 10-month-old female and a 3-year-old male for a short period of time, and Friday evening the mother was called to come get the children," Potter said. The call came from a family member.
"When [the child's mother] arrived there Friday afternoon, the 10-month old was covered in bruises about the face, shoulders and neck, had a black eye and numerous fresh bruising," he said.
Alexander fled the home when the mother arrived and was later found at the Dayton Walmart by Dayton police, Potter said.
"He was obviously under the influence of something, and when they went to place him under arrest he resisted and ran," Potter said.
Alexander ran across five lanes of Rhea County Highway to another shopping center, but officers were able to take him into custody and transport him to jail, Potter said.
"Since he was in jail, I was able to go to [Children's Hospital at Erlanger] and I was able to get several photographs and spoke with the pediatric trauma care doctor, talked to a couple of people that were at the residence and was able to put a timeline together," Potter said.
Medical officials said all of the bruises probably occurred within 16 to 24 hours or less before their discovery, "which is the time period that he had both children, and he was the only caretaker of the children at the time," Potter said.
Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said the case can be prosecuted under a 2005 Tennessee statute that increasing the charge's severity.
"He was charged under the aggravated child abuse statute sometimes called 'Haley's Law,' because the child is alleged to have suffered serious bodily injury," Taylor said. Because the child is 8 years old or younger, the charge is raised from a class B to a class A felony, he said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.