A voluminous amount of evidence will be heard next fall when Megan Boswell appears before a Sullivan County jury on murder charges in connection with the death of her child.
Twenty-year-old Boswell, the mother of 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell, whose body was found on family property in Blountville last year, appeared in Sullivan County Criminal Court on Thursday.
The woman, who did not speak during the nearly 30-minute hearing, was previously indicted by a grand jury on two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated child abuse, one count of aggravated child neglect, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of abuse of a corpse, one count of failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances, and 12 counts of false reports.
During the hearing, Judge Jim Goodwin scheduled the case to go to trial on Sept. 26, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. If the trial is not held locally, however, the case will be heard beginning the week prior, he said.
The case is expected to last three or four weeks, according to Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus. The prosecutor said he expects several motions to be discussed over the next year before the trial begins.
Staubus said prosecutors have provided defense attorney C. Brad Sproles with 87,000 images, 57 hours of video, 18 hours of audio footage, 28,000 text messages and 24,000 pages of social media, in addition to evidence from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Final evidence is currently being examined at the crime lab, Staubus added.
“I agree, there is a tremendous amount that we are dealing with,” Sproles said.
Law enforcement began investigating Evelyn’s disappearance in February 2020, when her grandfather reported her missing, authorities said. Her body was found March 6 on property along Muddy Creek Road in Blountville. She had been the subject of a statewide AMBER Alert and was last seen by a babysitter in December 2019.
No details have been released about how Evelyn died or the circumstances surrounding her death. Evidence in the case, including the autopsy report, has been sealed.
Like other cases in the region, the Boswell court case has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staubus said the next stage of the case is to decide what evidence will be introduced during the trial.
“There may be motions to exclude or allow exhibits,” Staubus said.
Boswell is expected to return to court Dec. 3 at 1:30 p.m. regarding a motion to reduce bond, which is currently set at $1 million. In the motion, Sproles says Boswell has no known criminal history, has been to every court appearance and will appear at all future court dates. It adds that she had been employed up to the point of her arrest in 2020.
Then, the case will return to court on April 7, 2022, for a motions hearing. On that date, Goodwin said the court will discuss a motion for a change of venue.
“The defendant feels that it would be impossible to obtain a fair and just hearing due to the widespread coverage in the news media including newspaper, social media, television and radio,” the motion states.
Goodwin noted that he plans to prepare a jury questionnaire regarding publicity to a future jury panel to “engage their temperature as far as publicity goes,” he said. “That way, when we get to April 7, we will have some data to make an informed decision.”
If a Sullivan County jury cannot be empaneled, Goodwin said the court will determine during the April hearing where to find a fair jury.
Sproles has also filed a severance motion, asking the judge to separate some of the charges into separate trials.