The daughter and son-in-law of Westmoreland, Tennessee, Mayor Jerry Kirkman have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder after their 2-year-old son was left in a hot car overnight in mid-July. Officially, 24-year-old Jade Elizabeth Phillips and 26-year-old Anthony Dyllan Phillips have been charged with first-degree murder committed in perpetration of aggravated child neglect, first-degree murder committed in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse in connection with their son’s hot car death.
The couple were arrested on July 24, reports USA Today, after their 2-year-old son Kipp was found deceased in a car parked outside of the family’s home, which is owned by the Tennessee mayor. The toddler’s body was reportedly found by his parents at roughly 2:00 p.m. on Friday, July 14, after having allegedly been left in the vehicle since the previous afternoon. High temperatures in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, hovered around 90 degrees when the toddler was trapped in the car in front of the home owned by his mayor grandfather and resided in by himself and his parents.
Initially, both the Gatlinburg Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations declined to release the name of the victim or the victim’s parents. Tennessee authorities also refused to confirm whether criminal charges in the case were indicated, but local media outlets quickly determined that the hot-car-related death had taken place at a home belonging to the Tennessee mayor.
A news release by Fourth District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn indicates that the daughter and son-in-law of the Tennessee mayor were initially held at the Sumner County jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond each. However, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that that amount was later reduced to $100,000.
Jade Phillips, the daughter of the Tennessee mayor and mother of deceased 2-year-old Kipp, has reportedly already posted bail and retained defense attorney Tasha Blakney. Her husband is still behind bars and is reportedly being represented by veteran with the 4th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office attorney Amber Haas.
The daughter and son-in-law of Westmoreland, Tennessee, Mayor Jerry Kirkman appeared in court on July 31. Kirkman himself appeared alongside his daughter, who has been ordered to subject herself to electronic monitoring as she awaits her murder trial in her son’s hot car death.
Tennessee Mayor Jerry Kirkman’s son-in-law had no support as he appeared in court as a jail inmate. He reportedly looked at his wife as she left the courtroom, but she did not look back.
According to prosecutors, Jade and Anthony Phillips had been living in a a home belonging to the mayor when their 2-year-old son was found dead in mid-July. The couple, who have reportedly been married since March 2015, had allegedly been working opposite shifts at the Apple Barn restaurant in Sevierville so that they could take care of their son.
A manager at the restaurant has declined to comment on the couple’s employment and/or the current criminal charges filed against them.
Neighbors have described the daughter and son-in-law of the Tennessee mayor as “good parents.”
The couple have been charged with first-degree “felony murder.” According to Tennessee law, prosecutors have only to demonstrate that 2-year-old Kipp was killed as a result of felony abuse and neglect, not that his parents deliberately planned to kill him. A person convicted of felony first-degree murder in Tennessee faces either life with a mandatory 51-year prison term, life without parole, or the death penalty.
At this time, it is unknown how the 2-year-old grandson of Tennessee Mayor Jerry Kirkman was left unattended for at least 12 hours leading up to his death.
No trial date has yet been set in the murder case, and the Tennessee mayor has yet to publicly comment on the hot-car-related death of his 2-year-old grandson, Kipp Phillips.
Jade Phillips didn’t comment on Monday when she left the courtroom with her father, Tennessee Mayor Jerry Kirkman. Additionally, Anthony Phillips didn’t publicly comment before being returned to the Sevier County Jail.
[Featured Image by Sevier County Jail]