SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Megan Boswell, the Sullivan County woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter, Evelyn Boswell appeared in court for a motions hearing Thursday. The two major items discussed were the questionnaire that will be presented to a jury pool for the upcoming trial and a motion to split Boswell’s charges into two separate trials.
News Channel 11 had a crew in the courtroom for the hearing. You can watch the hearing in its entirety above.
Judge Jim Goodwin first addressed the matter of the jury questionnaire. District Attorney Barry Staubus told Goodwin that he and Brad Sproles, Boswell’s attorney, had agreed on what would be included in that document.
The results of the questionnaire will factor into the court’s decision on the motion to move the trial out of Sullivan County. Sproles has previously stated that due to the widespread public opinion on the case in the county, finding an unbiased jury may require a change of venue.
The court then took up the motion for the severance of the charges into two trials. Sproles said he wanted to separate the first four charges Boswell faces, including the two felony murder charges, from the others. Sproles told Goodwin that there was a concern that a jury would not be able to properly examine and make a determination on all the charges, referencing all 12 of her counts of false reports.
“What we’re trying to avoid is a situation where the jury can say ‘She’s been found guilty of filing false reports so therefore, she has to be guilty of the murder,'” Sproles said in court.
The state disagreed, saying that all of Boswell’s charges together paint the full picture of what happened to Evelyn.
The district attorney’s office called Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David Gratz to the stand to provide testimony in the case and give his insight into the false reporting charges and the incidents they stem from. Gratz previously provided evidence in the case to the grand jury, which resulted in Boswell’s charges.
You can watch Gratz’s full testimony below:
Assistant District Attorney William Harper asked Gratz about several instances during the investigation leading up to Boswell being charged with Evelyn’s murder. Gratz recounted instances during which he said Megan had claimed that Evelyn was with Ethan Perry, the child’s father, before changing her story to say her own mother, Angela Boswell, had Evelyn. At one point, Gratz said Megan Boswell told investigators that an unknown person had custody of Evelyn and “wanted to give her a better life.”
“The defendant said that, again, Angela had Evelyn Boswell and had given Evelyn to an unknown or unnamed person and that Evelyn was safe and would have a better life with this unknown person,” Gratz said of an alleged false statement from Boswell on Feb. 23, 2020.
According to Gratz, Boswell later told authorities Evelyn was dead, but it was not her fault and she was not aware of where her body was.
“She did say that she was aware Evelyn was dead; however, she told the story that it was resulted either her or Hunter Wood rolling over the child while sleeping, but she did not know the location of Evelyn’s body,” Gratz said.
When asked by Harper, Gratz said Evelyn’s body was found on Tommy Boswell’s property on Muddy Creek Road in a playhouse behind a shed. Tommy Boswell, Evelyn’s grandfather, had built the playhouse for Megan Boswell as a child, Gratz said.
In total, Gratz said close to a terabyte of evidence was acquired following the execution of search warrants by authorities. The evidence included phone records, photos and social media.
Sproles chose not to cross-examine Gratz and had no questions for him.
The prosecution told Goodwin they believe Boswell’s false reports are indicative of a scheme to ensure no one ever found Evelyn’s body and attention was deflected from the fact that she was dead.
Goodwin did not decide in court Thursday whether or not to split the charges into separate trials. Sproles told News Channel 11 that Goodwin will issue a written ruling on that motion and is anxious to see what he decides.
“It focuses on the multiple counts of filing a false report,” Sproles said in an interview after the hearing. “We believe that those should be tried separately from the remaining counts in the indictment. We think that to have those tired at the same time creates a situation where a juror could possibly say ‘well she may be guilty of crimes X, Y and Z so she, therefore, has to be guilty of crimes A, B and C.’ We’re trying to make things as safe as possible to ensure that we have a fair determination of the proof.”
Originally, the court was set to hear from both sides in July regarding the use of some pictures from the case as evidence in the trial. However, both Sproles and Staubus agreed that hearing could be held earlier. Goodwin scheduled that hearing for June 24 at 1:30 p.m.
During that hearing, Goodwin said the court will also take up the matter of Boswell’s mental health evaluation.
Boswell’s full trial is scheduled to begin on September 26. The district attorney’s office has announced they plan to seek a sentence of life imprisonment for Boswell without the possibility of parole.