A Calhoun County judge on Tuesday declined to reduce $1 million bonds for an Anniston man and woman charged with aggravated child abuse.
Taneka Shaunta Hayes, 22, and Edwin Lenard McKissick, 45, in October were charged with aggravated child abuse in connection with the abuse of a then-5-month-old girl. According to court records, Hayes is the child’s mother and McKissick is the child’s great-uncle.
On Tuesday Anniston police Investigator Jay Harrington testified to the child’s condition.
“She’s in what I would call a nursing home for kids in Montgomery,” he said. “She’s breathing on her own but she’s on a feeding tube.”
In a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Harrington testified that the child had a head injury, both femurs were broken and about 12 ribs were broken.
“The only active part of her brain is her brain stem which controls involuntary movement,” Harrington said on Tuesday.
Attorneys Justin Wilson, representing McKissick, and Michael Askew, representing Hayes, filed for bond reductions as their clients wait for their cases to go to a grand jury.
“This is a Class B felony,” Wilson argued. “The recommended range for a Class B felony is between $5,000 and $30,000. The $1 million bond is a violation of his rights to a reasonable bond.”
Askew echoed Wilson’s arguments and added that his client has ties to the area and is not a flight risk.
“There’s no evidence she is a danger,” Askew argued. “She’s being charged for maltreatment, for failing to seek medical treatment for her child. There is no evidence she caused the trauma to the child.”
Harrington testified Tuesday that Hayes told investigators she was nervous about taking the child to the hospital for fear her other children would be taken from her.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Circuit Judge Debra Jones asked the two defendants about their work history and criminal history.
“I haven’t had a job in almost 20 years. I’m disabled,” McKissick responded. “I have three dislocated discs in my back, arthritis in my knees and asthma.”
Hayes, who previously worked at a convenience store in Coldwater, said she hasn’t worked since 2016.
Wilson said he’d like to “plead the fifth” to McKissick’s criminal history because “it could hurt him in court.”
Calhoun County Assistant District Attorney Randy Moeller argued that information was relevant to Jones’ decision.
“He’s got one prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance,” Moeller said.
Moeller added that McKissick had three failure to appear warrants in Birmingham and is currently charged with fourth-degree theft in Oxford of a charity donation container from Wal-Mart.
“So for purposes of this hearing, I’m to understand that neither party was working and were present at the home?” Jones said.
McKissick began to speak again.
“What we keep trying to tell everyone, we tried to tell the cops, was that the baby had went,” he began.
“You may want to speak with your attorney before you continue, Mr. McKissick,” Jones said cutting the defendant off.
Wilson and McKissick spoke in hushed voices before Wilson responded.
“They say the child was in the care of the child’s father when the injuries occurred,” Wilson responded. “So I would not say my client was present.”
Jones, taking all the testimony into consideration, declined to reduce the bonds.
“Let’s first address Mr. McKissick. I do believe he is a flight risk,” Jones said. “He failed to appear in 2010, 2011 and 2013. That bond is not unreasonable.”
Jones continued on to Hayes.
“Due to the totality of the circumstances, the failure to take that baby to the hospital when it was lifeless and hasn’t eaten in 2 days in unconscionable. That bond is not unreasonable. That motion is also denied.”