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Tenn. couple arrested: Daughter, 5, died from forced overdrinking of grape soda

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A Tennessee couple was arrested and charged with murder this week, after investigators said the pair forced the man’s daughter, who was 5 years of age, to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water, causing her brain to swell and rupture.

According to The Associated Press on Thursday, Alexa Linboom was brought into the emergency room on Jan. 1, 2012, by her father, Randall Vaughn, 41, and his wife, Mary Vaughn, 58, both of Hawkins County. Linboom was blue and unresponsive. She later died of a brain hemorrhage.

An autopsy completed last year indicated that Alexa had “an abnormal body posture that indicates severe brain damage.” An investigation revealed that the Vaughn’s punished Alexa by forcing her to drink 2.4 liters of the liquids, which caused the massive hernia.

Alexa’s official cause of death was ruled as “acute fluid / water intoxication causing hyponatremic encephalopathy.”

The Vaughns were arrested on Wednesday and are being held at the Hawkins County jail. Their bond was set at $500,000 each and both are scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow. The couple is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse.

“Tennessee Department of Children's Services spokesman Rob Johnson confirmed that Alexa had lived in the home with five other children, some of whom were siblings and some of whom were half-siblings. The other children were removed from the house in Feb. 2013 and remain in DCS custody,” says the AP report.

In addition to the dangerous punishment, the Vaughns are also accused of being negligent in caring for her medical needs after Alexa started vomiting and urinating on herself.

“They also failed to take care of the child once she was injured,” said Attorney General Berkeley Bell. “Our position is it was a matter of several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralyzed state, and became unconscious.”

Bell said the couple did not intend to kill the girl, but their slipshod punishment was clearly meant to harm her, and her death was directly attributable to the actions of the two negligent adults.

“Allegedly the child, as a form of punishment, was forced to drink grape drinks, as well as a great deal of water, to the point that her body became water intoxicated,” Bell said. “That led to her brain swelling and all of her systems shutting down, and to her eventual brain death. The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape drink. I don’t know exactly how much liquid she drank, but there were 4.5 12 ounce drinks plus water in-between.”

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