Woman charged with child neglect, public intoxication

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  A Stoney Creek woman was arrested Saturday afternoon and charged with child neglect and a drug-related offense after she was reportedly found intoxicated in the playground area of a local fast food restaurant with her two small children.
  Tabitha Turner, 28, 102 Berry Hill Rd., was arrested shortly before 1 p.m. on Saturday by Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Patrick White and charged with public intoxication, simple possession of a Schedule II narcotic, child abuse and neglect (non-violent) and aggravated child abuse and neglect.
  According to police reports, officers of the Elizabethton Police Department were dispatched to McDonald's, located at 215 Broad St., in reference to a female subject who was possibly drunk with two small children -- ages 5 and 9 years old -- in the playroom.
  "Upon arrival, (I) observed a female individual identified as Tabitha Lynette Turner trying to use a chair for balance," states White in his report on the incident. "Ms. Turner was unsteady on her feet and had slurred speech."
  According to White's report, EPD Capt. Rusty Verran also responded to the scene and interviewed William Oliver, an employee of McDonald's. "Mr. Oliver advised he saw Ms. Turner almost fall and had to help her to her feet," states the police report. "Mr. Oliver further advised that Ms. Turner was messed up."
  At that time, White asked Turner to perform a series of field sobriety tests and, according to the report, she "performed all the tests poorly."
  While officers were speaking with Turner, she stated to police that she had taken Paxil and Ceroquil earlier in the day.
  Officers placed Turner under arrest and conducted a pat down search of her person. "Ms. Turner was transported to the Elizabethton Police Department. During an inventory of Ms. Turner's pocketbook, a bottle containing 29 and a half Alprazolam was discovered. The prescription was filled with 60 pills on Nov. 19, 2004," states White in his report. "The pocketbook also contained a plastic bottle containing methadone, approximately 31 grams." White further states in the report that Turner advised officers that she had purchased the methadone at a basketball game from an acquaintance.
  White was charged with public intoxication, simple possession of a Schedule II narcotic (methadone), one count of child abuse and neglect and one count of aggravated child abuse and neglect.
  Under Tennessee law, child abuse and neglect is defined as "any person who knowingly, other than by accidental means, treats a child under 18 years of age in such a manner as to inflict injury or neglects such a child so as to adversely affect the child's health and welfare." Child abuse and neglect is a "Class A" misdemeanor.
  However, if the child involved is less than six years of age, the charge becomes aggravated child abuse and neglect and is classified as a "Class A" felony.