Trial set for stepmother of beaten toddler
By Sabrina Bates, Chief Staff Writer
The stepmother of a toddler who suffered from significant head injuries last summer will stand trial in Weakley County Circuit Court on the charge of child abuse and neglect.
Tiffani Callahan of Martin is accused of severely beating Austin Cash, 19-month-old stepson at the time. Cash’s father, Wesley Griffin, faces the same charge.
During a court hearing this morning in front of 27th Judicial District Judge William Acree, attorneys agreed to sever the cases and try Griffin and Callahan separately. Attorneys also agreed to try Griffin after his estranged wife goes to trial.
Callahan’s attorney, Cynthia Snell, requested to have her trial closer to the fall season to allow them enough time to hire expert witnesses. Acree stated that if the case went to trial in September, Griffin’s case would have to be heard in 2009 to allow him a different jury pool.
Snell said her client may not be able to financially handle hiring an expert witness since she is also paying for a private attorney in preparation for an earlier trial date.
“I don’t want this case to go into 2009. These charges are from 2007,” Acree stated.
District Attorney Tommy Thomas announced the state would like to leave the plea bargain open for Griffin until after Callahan’s trial instead of setting a plea cut-off date.
Acree did set Callahan’s trial for July 29. Her plea cut-off is set for July 10. She must make a court appearance that day.
“After that date, I will not accept a plea other than the indictment,” Acree said.
The couple is accused of beating the toddler that was in their care last August. The child was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital after suffering a seizure. He was later flown to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis where he spent several months getting treatment for swelling on his brain and three skull fractures.
The child is now in the custody of his biological mother’s grandparents in Milan.