Anthony and Jade Phillips

‘It was not an accident’: Mayor’s daughter and son-in-law arraigned for murder after Gatlinburg tot dies in hot car; husband and wife turn on each other

A Sevier County judge arraigned the parents of a 2-year-old child on Monday on murder charges, after the toddler died while trapped inside a hot car earlier this month.

WBIR reports that Anthony Dyllan Phillips, 26, and Jade Elizabeth Phillips, 24, are accused of leaving their toddler son, Kipp, inside a car overnight on July 14, and throughout the next morning and afternoon. When police arrived at around 2 p.m., the toddler was already deceased.

The incident happened at 16 Laurel Ave., in Gatlinburg. According to public court records, the home belongs to James Kirkland, the mayor of Westmoreland. The mayor’s pastor and other locals confirmed earlier this month that the toddler was Kirkland’s grandson. Kirkland is the father of Jade Phillips.

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On Monday, authorities presented enough evidence to a grand jury to indict both suspects on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse.

Chief Brackins of the Gatlinburg Police Department said that although the parents were in “in shock” and seemed remorseful, the evidence presented indicates that “it was not an accident.”

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, husband and wife are starting to turn against each and lines are being drawn as to which one is ultimately at fault.

Jade Phillips posted her $250,000 bond and walked out of jail after the arraignment. She hired attorney Tasha Blakney, a veteran lawyer in the Gatlinburg area. Anthony Phillips, who stood before the judge in a black and white jail romper, didn’t come up with the money to post bail and didn’t have an attorney. The court assigned public defender, Amber Haas, to represent him.

As Jade Phillips left the courtroom, she didn’t look at her husband. She turned her face away from while when he glanced in her direction.

Sevier County Criminal Court Judge Rex Henry Ogle set a motions hearing date for Nov. 1.

[Feature: Sumner County Jail]