UPDATE: Trial begins for woman accused of murdering Marion Count - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Trial begins for woman accused of murdering Marion County 5-year-old

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WHITWELL, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The trial started on Tuesday for a woman accused of killing a five-year-old boy from Marion County.

Holly Rutledge has pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder and child abuse in the death of Lucas Dillon.

An autopsy from the medical examiner's office shows the five-year-old died from blunt force trauma to the head.

At the time, investigators said his dad was dating Holly Rutledge who also goes by Holly Hardesty. She was babysitting the five-year-old while his dad was at work.

She called 9-1-1 requesting an ambulance.

Whitwell police found the young boy severely injured at the home. More than nine months after his death, the TBI arrested Rutledge. 

The jury heard testimony on Tuesday from several people including 5-year-old Lucas Dillon's family, expert witnesses, law enforcement, and doctors.

One was a paramedic who responded to that home on Jewell Lane more than two years ago.

He remembers arriving to find the little boy lying on the couch. He was not breathing and without a pulse.

A statement read to jurors that Rutledge wrote to police said Lucas fell asleep on the couch. She went to take a shower and later tried to wake him up, but she couldn't.

One of the paramedics explains what he saw when he arrived.

"He had no signs of any physical trauma. No signs of falls. No signs of any strangulation. There was no signs of any fractured bones. We couldn't find any reason they gave us an indication of what was going on," Jefferson Jones, a paramedic said.

The trial could last until the end of the week.

Channel 3 will let you know if and when jurors reach a verdict.


UPDATE: The woman accused of killing a five-year-old boy appeared in court for the first time Friday. An autopsy shows Lucas Dillon died from blunt force trauma to the head.
 
Channel 3 cameras weren't allowed inside the courtroom but our reporter was there as Holly Rutledge, who also goes by Holly Hardesty, pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder and child abuse.

"I feel aggravated at the justice system and the slow pace and things are just not being addressed."

Michael Dillon was hoping to see the person accused of murdering his five year old grandson receive a higher bond..
    
Instead, the Judge appointed Rutledge an attorney and set a later court date, delaying that decision.
    
All while Lucas Dillon's family sat silently, wearing T-shirts in his honor.  

"We love that we have this much support for him, because there's more support for Lucas than there is anybody in the community," Pardo said.

The shirts call for an end to child abuse, and the signs call for justice for Lucas.
    
Lucas's mom, Jessica Pardo, says she'll never stop missing her angel.

"To me his memory will always be alive, I could never forget my son," Pardo said, "I just wish he could meet his baby brother that's coming in April."
    
Out on bond, Rutledge, left the courtroom surrounded by her supporters, who blocked our camera and made it clear she had no comment.

Rutledge will return to court in a few weeks.

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UPDATE:  A joint investigation by Special Agents from TBI and Whitwell Police Department has resulted in arresting Holly Hardesty, 30, on murder charges of Lucas Dillon death, the five-year-old died from blunt force trauma. 

Hardesty has been charged with First Degree Murder and aggravated Child Abuse. 

Lucas Dillon was killed just two weeks after he turned five years old.

His grandfather, Micheal Dillon, remembers how smart he was for such a little boy.

"He was as smart as a whip, very bright, very talkative," Dillon said.

Dillon's last memory of Lucas is waving to him as he went to work. Lucas was still in his pajamas standing at the front door.
    
Hours later, Dillon would get a call saying Lucas was in the hospital.

"To see your grandson taken off life support, there was no breaths, his heart just stopped he wasn't breathing," Dillon said, "His little heart stopped."

Nine and a half months after Lucas's death, the TBI arrested 30-year old Holly Hardesty for his murder.
    
Hardesty was dating Lucas' dad at the time, and was babysitting Lucas while he was at work.

"I know with all my heart and soul, the very marrow of my bones, she murdered my grandson," Dillon said.

Dillon says in the months after Lucas's death, he knew Hardesty would one day be held responsible.

"We were never worried about that aspect, we just wanted her behind bars," Dillon said, "And now, she's out."

He never imagined her bond would be set at only $50,000 dollars.
    
Hardesty spent less than three days in jail and is due back in court on Friday.
    
The Dillon family hopes to see justice for five-year-old Lucas.

"There's nothing we can do about it, alls we can do it just speak up," Dillon said.

District Attorney Mike Taylor is not happy with the bond amount in the case either.

He says the Judge made the decision without the state having a chance to argue for a higher bond.

The state plans to ask the Judge to increase Hardesty's bond at Friday's hearing.

If that happens, she would be booked in jail again.

Hardesty has been charged with First Degree Murder and aggravated Child Abuse. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Funeral arrangements have been announced for Lucas Dillon, the five-year-old boy who died in Marion County as a result of blunt force trauma.

Services will be held at Whitwell Memorial Funeral Home:

  • Visitation: Thursday, April 2, from 4:00pm to 8:00pm and Friday, April 3, from 1:00pm to 8:00pm.
  • Funeral services:  Saturday, April 4 at 2:00pm in the funeral home, with interment at Whitwell Memorial Cemetery
  • Reverend Darrell Winters will be officiating the services.

PREVIOUS STORY: Mike Taylor, the 12th District Attorney General has confirmed to Channel 3 that five-year-old Lucas Michael Dillon died from blunt force trauma to the head.

A Medical Examiner's autopsy revealed that the Whitwell boy died Monday as the result of blunt force trauma, sustained over the weekend. 

The case's status has changed from a death investigation to a homicide investigation.

TBI agents continue through the investigative process, speaking to witnesses and gathering evidence to determine who is responsible for the boy's death.

Anyone with information that may help investigators should call 1-800-TBI-FIND.


PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 has learned that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of five-year-old Lucas Michael Dillon.

Dillon was taken off life support at 11:05am EST Monday morning.

Marion County dispatch says they received a 911 call right before 11am Saturday from a female caller requesting an ambulance.

Whitwell Police discovered the severely injured boy at a home Jewell Lane Road.
Lucas' mom, who was not there at the time of the injury, took to Facebook asking for prayers for the little boy who suffered severe head trauma and was placed on life support.

Lucas was a student at the Whitwell Headstart and was staying with his father and a family friend.

No charged have yet been filed nor suspects' names released by the TBI.

The TBI is classifying the case as a death investigation until evidence would change the nature of the case.

Investigators are working to determine how the boy sustained his injuries.

An autopsy is expected, which should give investigators additional information regarding the boy's death.

As family members and friends wait for answers, funeral arrangements are being made at the Whitwell Memorial Funeral Home for the little boy who just celebrated his 5th birthday less than two weeks ago.

The Department of Children's Services is also investigating Lucas's death. DCS is looking into the family's history and are currently not aware of any previous cases involving this child.
 

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