A Lenoir City woman hospitalized at the University of Tennessee Medical Center for stabbing herself after killing her 3-year-son son died last week.
Melani Sue Brown, 38, was indicted on premeditated first-degree murder, felony murder by aggravated child abuse, felony murder by aggravated child neglect, aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect. Investigators presented evidence to a Loudon County grand jury at 8:30 a.m. March 13 and came back with true bills on the five charges.
“I know that she was struggling for the past days with her condition getting worse,” Don White, Lenoir City police chief, said. “They were giving us a report about it every 12 hours. We did have a successful indictment in hand waiting to serve that and, of course, she did not survive the injuries.”
Law enforcement received a call at 2:40 a.m. March 11 from a woman who said she was at McGhee Square apartment complex in Lenoir City where Brown and her toddler son were living. The woman arrived after receiving a call from Brown who was “saying strange things” while walking around outside in the complex.
When authorities arrived, the woman was administering CPR to the boy.
Brown was on the bed with self-inflicted knife wounds to her upper torso and neck area and was unresponsive. EMS transported her immediately to UT Medical Center. The 3-year-old died from injuries to his neck and upper torso.
“The event itself was just a horrific crime and the loss of the life of (the) young (boy) was just hard for everybody involved and I’m sure as well for the friends and family that lived near them,” White said. “... It’s just a bad, bad situation.”
Russell Johnson, 9th Judicial District attorney general, said “it’s unimaginable” what the family was going through right now.
“As far as the community is concerned, this is a real tragedy for all the day care workers and people that knew (the boy) and just as a collective family this is just horrible to have happened,” Johnson said. “At least it does bring closure where we don’t have to go through the process of a jury trial, a mental evaluation, and our concern obviously with a case like this in our office is having to make decisions over whether you go for a death penalty or not due to the nature of the crime that could have triggered it and the manner the crime occurred.”
Johnson said there was a qualifier for the death penalty.
“The torture and the nature of the crime or the murder,” he said. “We don’t have go to through that consideration, and also when you have the mental evaluation and all the background we have about the crime, there’s always a possibility of an insanity defense, which if it’s successful makes the outcome hard for anyone to swallow as a community in seeing that justice is done if someone were to successfully plead insanity and the jury would go along with that argument. Those things are now off the table. We don’t have to worry about that and that’s good for our office and good for the community.”