BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Megan Boswell, the woman accused of murdering her 15-month old daughter Evelyn Boswell, is expected to appear in a Sullivan County court Thursday at 9 a.m..
Megan Boswell faces two counts of felony murder; counts of aggravated child abuse; aggravated child neglect; tampering with evidence; abuse of a corpse; failure to report a death under suspicious, unusual or unnatural circumstances; and 12 counts of false reports.
Boswell has been in the Sullivan County Jail since March 2020 when Evelyn Boswell’s body was found.
Her defense and Sullivan County prosecutors will discuss two key pre-trial motions: the jury questionnaire and a severance motion to split Boswell’s charges into two trials.
Brad Sproles, Boswell’s defense attorney, said concerns over the jury questionnaire mainly stem from Boswell’s wish to have the trial moved out of Sullivan County.
“One of the steps that the judge will have us do before he agrees to move the trial is try to get a jury pool here in Sullivan County,” Sproles said. “We’re sending out to all the prospective jurors a questionnaire for them to fill out prior to appearing, so we can gauge the effect the pre-trial publicity is having on the case.”
DA Barry Staubus leads the prosecution against Boswell. He expects the sides to come to an agreement on the questionnaire Thursday.
“Sometimes you try to craft some questions that are specific to the case,” Staubus said. “Both sides pretty much know what they’d like to put in the questionnaire, so I don’t think that should be a problem.”
If the prosecution and defense cannot come to an agreement, it will be up to a judge to decide what is and is not in the questionnaire.
Sproles said he’s never seen such a high-profile case before in Sullivan County, and he is concerned that public opinion locally might have an impact on the verdict.
He said a 15-plus page document includes questions to evaluate how the publicity of the Boswell case has impacted individual jurors.
“The questions are, ‘Have you seen pre-trial publicity, and has that caused you to create an opinion about the case before hearing the evidence?'” Sproles said. “The last one is, ‘Can you set that opinion aside and listen to the case and the evidence and give a fair verdict?'”
Despite the desire by the defense to have the trial moved elsewhere, Staubus is convinced the trial can stay in Sullivan County.
“We believe that we can get a fair jury here, which is one that will listen to the facts and apply the law and make a decision based on those two things and nothing else,” Staubus said.
Both sides will decide on the trial location at a later hearing after a Sullivan County jury pool has been set.
Also expected for discussion is the defense’s motion for severance, which means separating Boswell’s charges into two trials.
Sproles said the defense wants one trial for Boswell’s murder, child abuse and child negligence charges, and another for her false reporting and other charges.
“Ms. Boswell was indicted for multiple charges. Our position is the most serious of those should be tried separately from the others,” Sproles said. “We believe to try all the counts in one trial would be prejudicial against her.”
Staubus disagreed with the motion, saying one trial paints the full picture of the case.
“Our basic argument is all these things are intertwined and it makes sense to try them together for the jury to have the full information and full context,” Staubus said.
There are still several pre-trial hearings before the trial’s expected start date of Sept. 26.
Defense and prosecution are expected to continue discussions over admissible photographic evidence and whether the trial will stay in Sullivan County.
The hearing is expected to start Thursday at the Sullivan County Justice Center at 9 a.m.
News Channel 11 will have continuing coverage throughout the day as the hearing progresses.