BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — State prosecutors announced Friday morning that they will seek life imprisonment without parole for Megan Boswell. The Sullivan County teenager faces murder charges for the death of her 15-month-old daughter, Evelyn. Prosecutors say their decision was based on legal precedent.
Megan appeared for a virtual court hearing on Friday. Her charges include two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated child abuse, one count of aggravated child neglect, among others.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Amber Alert for Evelyn on Feb. 19, 2020. The toddler’s body was found inside a shed on a Boswell family member’s property in March.
Most court documents for Megan’s case remain sealed under court order, including Evelyn’s autopsy.
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus believes life imprisonment without parole was the correct decision. Court documents listed one aggravating factor, reading, “the murder was committed against a person less than twelve (12) years of age and the defendant was eighteen (18) years of age or older.”
Megan was 18 at the time of Evelyn’s death.
Staubus explained the decision to News Channel 11 on Friday.
“Because of, as I said, the prior decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court that says if you have an 18-year-old defendant without a record, and only one aggravating factor, then it’s disproportionate and it’s not a valid death penalty in that case, that’s what they decided,” he said.
Staubus is referring to the State v. Godsey case, which played out in the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2001. Originally Bobby Godsey was convicted by a Sullivan County jury of first-degree felony murder for killing an infant. He received a death sentence. An appeals court later ruled against this sentence. Godsey was eventually sentenced to life without parole.
“I’m very familiar with the case because I assisted in the trial of that case,” Staubus said of State v. Godsey.
Staubus also said he spoke with members of the Boswell family before making the decision in Megan’s case as well.
Megan’s appointed attorney, Brad Sproles, said he wasn’t surprised the state will not pursue the death penalty.
“There’s some case law that would work against them,” he said.
News Channel 11 asked Sproles if the decision was a relief for Megan.
“Probably, yeah. I’m sure she’s not happy about the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison though,” said Sproles.
Megan’s next court date is set as May 14. By this date, both Staubus and Sproles say they hope to have gone through the vast amount of case evidence. Sproles will have the opportunity to file motions ahead of the case potentially heading to trial.