Newport man charged with murder in child’s July death

Bobby Scott Pennington (source: Cocke County Sheriff's Department)

NEWPORT (WATE) – A Newport man has now been indicted on first degree murder and child abuse charges after the July death of a 2-year-old girl in his care.

Bobby Scott Pennington, 22, is charged with first degree murder, first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse. The Cocke County District Attorney’s office says Pennignton was caring for Destanee Elaina Harris, his girlfriend’s daughter, on July 29 when she died a “premeditated” death.

Pennington told officers he tried to wake up the child and noticed she was having trouble breathing. He says she then stopped breathing when he took her to the living room.

Emergency responders tried to revive the child, but she was pronounced dead at Newport Medical Center. Autopsy results show she was dead as much as an hour prior to emergency responders’ arrival. The autopsy also showed injuries that had been inflicted over a period of time, including old bone fractures and severe damage to the child’s intestines.

Pennington was first charged in the case in July under Haley’s Law, which alone carries a punishment of 15 to 25 years in prison. Bond is set at $500,000.

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