BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Megan Boswell, the woman charged with the murder of her 15-month-old daughter Evelyn Boswell, is scheduled to appear in Sullivan County court at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Megan Boswell faces two counts of felony murder; counts of aggravated child abuse; aggravated child neglect; tampering with evidence; abuse of a corpse; failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances; and 12 false reporting accounts.
Boswell has been in the Sullivan County Jail since March 2020, when Evelyn Boswell’s body was found.
His defense and Sullivan County prosecutors will discuss two key preliminary motions: the jury’s questionnaire and a severance motion seeking to split Boswell’s charges into two trials.
Brad Sproles, Boswell’s defense attorney, said concerns about the jury’s questionnaire stem primarily from Boswell’s wish to have the trial moved out of Sullivan County.
“One of the steps the judge will ask us to do before agreeing to move the trial is to try to get a jury pool here in Sullivan County,” Sproles said. “We send all potential jurors a questionnaire to complete before they appear, so that we can assess the effect of pre-trial publicity on the case.”
DA Barry Staubus is leading the chase against Boswell. He expects the parties to reach an agreement on the questionnaire on Thursday.
“Sometimes you try to formulate case-specific questions,” Staubus said. “Both parties know roughly what they would like to put in the questionnaire, so I don’t think that should be a problem.”
If the prosecution and defense cannot reach an agreement, it will be up to a judge to decide what is and is not in the questionnaire.
Sproles said he’s never seen such a high-profile case before in Sullivan County, and he’s worried local public opinion will impact the verdict.
He said a 15-plus-page document includes questions to gauge the impact of publicity about the Boswell case on individual jurors.
“The questions are: ‘Did you see any publicity before the trial, and did that cause you to form an opinion about the case before hearing the evidence?’ “Sproles said. “The last one is, ‘Can you put that opinion aside and listen to the case and the evidence and come up with a fair verdict?'”
Despite the defense’s desire to move the trial elsewhere, Staubus is confident the trial can stay in Sullivan County.
“We think we can get a fair jury here that will listen to the facts and apply the law and make a decision based on those two things and nothing more,” Staubus said.
The two sides will decide where the trial will take place at a later hearing after a Sullivan County jury panel is established.
The defense’s severance motion is also pending discussion, which means splitting Boswell’s charges into two trials.
Sproles said the defense wants a trial for Boswell’s murder, child abuse and neglect charges, and another for her misrepresentations and other charges.
“Ms. Boswell has been charged on multiple counts. Our position is the most serious of those that must be tried separately from the others,” Sproles said. would be detrimental to him.”
Staubus disagreed with the motion, saying a trial paints a full picture of the case.
“Our basic argument is that all of these things are intertwined and it makes sense to try them together so the jury has all the information and all the context,” Staubus said.
There are still several preliminary hearings before the scheduled start of the trial, September 26.
The defense and prosecution are expected to continue discussions about admissible photo evidence and whether the trial will remain in Sullivan County.
The hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday at the Sullivan County Justice Center at 9 a.m.
News Channel 11 will have continuous coverage throughout the day as the ratings grow.
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