Aunt pleads guilty to killing 3-month-old niece - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Aunt pleads guilty to killing 3-month-old niece

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The woman accused of killing her infant niece in Harrison has pleaded guilty. Jessica Fax, 29, entered a plea deal on Friday morning.

Fax, shackled and in a red jumpsuit, was holding back tears while being comforted by her public defender at Friday's hearing. She was accused of murdering 3-month-old Mia Fry while babysitting at her brother and sister-in-law's home in October 2012.

Fax was facing life in prison, but will now serve the next 35 years behind bars.

"These parents placed their trust in Ms. Fax, and she broke that trust," said prosecutor Charlie Minor.

Minor said Mia's parents didn't want to go to trial and approved of the 35-year deal.

"They didn't want to re-live what happened to their daughter," he said.

If a jury would have found Fax guilty of felony murder, she would be serving life in prison. There was plenty of evidence against her.

It was determined Mia died around 3 in the morning, and Fax was the only one who was with the baby at the time of her death. Additionally, Fax left several pre-measured feeding bottles unused, indicating the last time the child was fed was around 3 a.m. -- not 6 a.m., which Fax previously claimed. She also told conflicting stories to the child's parents and police.

"She indicated that perhaps she might have dropped Mia from a distance of maybe one-and-a-half to two feet from the couch onto a padded carpeted floor," Minor said.

But medical examiners said that kind of fall would not have caused such serious skull injuries. An autopsy ruled little Mia died of blunt force trauma.

Judge Barry Steelman asked Fax several times if she was sure that she wanted to enter a guilty plea.

"Yes," Fax replied.

Fax agreed to a lesser charge of second degree murder, along with aggravated child abuse. Both charges carry 15 and 20 years, respectively, and are to be served consecutively. As part of the plea, two other murder and neglect charges were dropped.

By entering the guilty plea agreement, Fax waived her right to a trial or an appeal. She is required to serve 100-percent of her 35-year sentence. That means the 29-year-old will be 64 by the time she can be released.
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