Grand jury to hear case against mother accused of starving infant son
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -
A Rutherford County grand jury will hear the case against the mother accused of starving her infant son.
Viktor Anderson, the then-3-month-old, was so underweight, he appeared to be the size of a 2-week-old, according to doctors.
"Although he was wearing zero to 3-month-old clothes, he had lost enough weight to go back to his newborn clothes," said Dr. Verena Brown with Vanderbilt Pediatrics.
Doctors also said if the mother had not taken him to the hospital, he may not have had a fighting chance.
"Eventually, if nothing had been done, he would have died," Brown said.
Rachel Henley was in Rutherford County General Sessions court Monday afternoon for a preliminary hearing.
Testimony revealed she was the primary caretaker of the infant and was responsible for his condition.
Even after taking him to the hospital, she brought in outdated bags of frozen breast milk. The baby was also anemic and had to have a blood transfusion because his iron level was so low due to a lack of food.
"My diagnosis was nutritionally and medical neglect," Brown said.
"At no point in this has anyone been able to point to any form of malice on the part of Ms. Henley," defense attorney Ron Vrablik said. "At no point has anyone been able to show any sense of intention behind Ms. Henley's actions."
The baby's father and Henley's live-in boyfriend, Aaron Anderson, said he was concerned the child was growing longer, but not getting fatter, so he suggested taking him to the see his pediatrician.
"I was concerned because he was not gaining weight," Aaron Anderson said. "He looked pretty much in the same condition as he came out, he was premature."
Henley, according to court testimony, only took her baby boy to his pediatrician twice, the last time when he was 1 month old. Testimony revealed her other son also had the same weight loss issue, something a former babysitter confirmed.
"These were her words that he went through the same thing as Viktor and she started feeding him goats' milk and he was cured," Murfreesboro police Detective Tommy Roberts said.
The baby has been doing fine and has gained weight, but a doctor testified if he had not received treatment, he would have died.
Judge Ben Hall McFarland did find enough probable cause to send this case to a grand jury.
As far as reducing her $105,000 bond, the judge denied that and said even though she is not a danger to the public at large, she is a flight risk.
An August grand jury is expected to hear her case.
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