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Five Year Old Dies After Being Punished By Parents

Five-year old Alexa Linboom, was punished on January 1, 2012, after she stole one of her step-mother's grape sodas. This punishment resulted in her death. The young girl's body became water-intoxicated, causing her brain to swell and all of her systems to shut down. Both her biological father and step-mother are being charged with first-degree murder and are each being help in lieu of $500,000 bond in the Hawkins County case.

Alexa Linboom was only 5-years old when her step-mother and father forced her to drink 4.5 12-ounce bottles of grape soda, as well as an unknown amount of water. This "punishment" was established after the young girl had taken some of her stepmother's grape soda after she had been told not to. Even after the young girl started to exhibit symptoms, the parents still failed to take care of her. Alexa had screamed out in pain for several hours before she went into a paralyzed state and became unconscious. It was at that point that her father and stepmother made their first attempt at helping her.

Once Alexa had been brought to the emergency room she was airlifted the same day to Niswonger Children's Hospital. She passed away two days later on January 3, 2012. An investigation into the death of this young girl has continued over the past two years. After an autopsy was performed, it was determined that the cause of death was acute fluid/water intoxication causing hyponatremic encephalopathy. This type of death is caused when sodium levels drop excessively low, allowing excess water to enter brain cells and cause swelling.

There were six children living in the household at the time of the incident, including the victim. The other five children were placed in foster care once the death of Alexa was ruled a homicide.

Both Randall Lee Vaughn and Mary Lavonne Vaugn were named in sealed Hawkins County grand jury indictments last week. They were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse. Attorney General Berkeley Bell said this case falls under the "Scotty Trexler Law" which makes it a first-degree murder case when a child dies as a result of child abuse. It has not been decided whether or not these individuals could face the death penalty.

Source: ABA Journal, Married couple face first-degree murder charges in water-intoxication death of girl, 5, Martha Neil, 2/7/14

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