A couple in Tennessee is facing life in prison—or even the death penalty—after authorities say they left their 2-year-old son alone in a car overnight and he died, WATE reports. Jade Phillips called 911 around 2pm July 14. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, authorities say her son Kipp had been left in the car overnight and into the afternoon, when temperatures were nearing 90 degrees. The child was dead when police officers and paramedics arrived, the Sevier News Messenger reports. "They were distraught," Gatlinburg Police Chief Randall Brackins tells the News Sentinel. "They just couldn't believe it was happening."
Jade Phillips and her husband, Anthony Phillips, were arrested this week and charged with first-degree murder following an investigation. They've also been charged with aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse. Police say it appears the couple left their son in the car on accident, and the district attorney says he doesn't believe they were trying to kill the boy. A criminal law professor says it may be the first time someone in Tennessee has been charged with murder after a child died in a hot car. The car in which Kipp died was parked at a home belonging to Jerry Kirkman, Jade Phillips' father. Kirkman is the mayor of Westmoreland, a small town located a few hundred miles from Gatlinburg. (Read more child dies in hot car stories.)