A Tennessee teenager has pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other charges in the death of her 15-month-old daughter, whose disappearance prompted a search across three states.
Megan Boswell, 19, wore a mask as she appeared via video briefly Friday for an arraignment in Tennessee’s Sullivan County Criminal Court to plead not guilty to the 19 charges against her.
It was Megan’s first court appearance since a grand jury indicted her on 19 charges including the murder and the abuse of her daughter, 15-month-old Evelyn Mae Boswell, earlier this month.
During the arraignment, prosecutors told the judge they had not decided whether to seek ‘enhanced punishment’ — either life without parole or the death penalty — for Megan, Knox News reported.
If the prosecution doesn’t seek enhanced punishment in her case, Megan could be sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole after serving 51 years in prison if she’s convicted of her charges.
Megan’s lawyer asked the court for a trial venue change, on the basis that the months-long media coverage over Evelyn’s disappearance and following investigation had tainted the potential jury pool.
The judge said that venue change motion would have a hearing on December 3.
Evelyn was initially reported missing by Megan’s father, Tommy Boswell Sr., on February 18, even though the child had not been seen since December, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.
Megan allegedly first told state investigators that Evelyn was with the child´s father, who is stationed with the US Army in Louisiana, but he did not have Evelyn, media reported.
Megan then said her mother took the child to a campground in Virginia, but authorities found no sign of the girl there. Megan was then jailed for making false statements.
Evelyn’s remains were found inside a shed owned by Megan’s father, Tommy, at the family’s compound in Blountville, Tennessee, in March.
It was determined that Evelyn had died in or around December 2019.
Tommy has yet to reveal to the public why he hadn’t reported the missing girl earlier, but denied having had any involvement in her disappearance or her death, according to reports.
Authorities have not yet revealed how Evelyn died, however the grand jury presentment indicates two legal theories under which Megan is being accused of killing the girl, either as the result of a child abuse act or through child neglect, Knox News reported.
Her grand jury indictment claims that Megan had abused her daughter’s corpse, a charge which typically indicates a body had been moved or hidden.
Last week, the Sullivan County grand jury indicted Megan on two counts of felony murder; one count each of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances; and 12 counts of false reports.