Hot car baby death case bound over to grand jury
HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — The case of a Chattanooga man accused of leaving his baby to die in a hot car will now go to the grand jury.
Travis McCullough is charged with criminal homicide and three counts of aggravated child abuse. On Tuesday, McCullough made his way into the courtroom for his preliminary hearing. In July, he was accused of leaving his baby, Kiara, in a hot car in the Buffalo Shack parking lot, where she died. That day he was working for his father, who owns the Buffalo Shack.
“I told him if he wanted to borrow money he had to work for it,” said Daniel Evans, McCullough’s father.
Evans says that day, he never saw his grandchildren.
“I came back and he was in the car with the police. I never seen the kids that day until they came from my sister’s house with the kids and brought them to the lot,” Evans said.
An officer says while McCullough was in the back of the police car he was screaming and saying he did have his three children.
“He kept saying he was going to make them pay because nobody wanted to help him out. He said ‘yes, I did have my kids all three of them,'” said Cameka Bruce, an investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department.
A woman driving by the Buffalo Shack says McCullough flagged her down for help.
“He had the baby over his shoulder and he had his hand on his shoulder. It didn’t look right to me so I put the car in reverse in the turning lane and turned in. Once I turned in he screamed help and I jumped out of the car he threw the baby in my arms.”
She says she called 911, but knew it was too late for baby Kiara.
Dr. Steven Cogswell, who performed the autopsy on Kiara, says her cause of death was hypothermia due to exposure to high environmental temperatures. He says when EMS arrived her arm pit temperature was 106.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The consensus opinion of forensic pathologists is if we have two conflicting manners of death or no data at all that is an appropriate use of undetermined. In this case we could easily make the argument that this is a homicide or that this is an accident,” Dr. Cogswell said.
The baby’s mother, Jessica Tollett is charged with three counts of attempted aggravated child abuse.