Couple convicted of child abuse caught in Franklin County

A couple convicted in Athens County Common Pleas Court last week of felony child abuse of their infant daughter are now awaiting extradition from Franklin County after being arrested there Monday, 10 days after they fled midway through their jury trial.

Kayla A. Fannon, 26, and Samuel A. Thompson, 31, both of Nelsonville, were arrested at the Budget Inn Motel in Lockbourne, Ohio, which is located south of the I-270 Outer Belt in Franklin County, after a tip was provided to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, a press release announced. The couple reportedly checked into the motel on Sunday.

Nationwide warrants were issued for Fannon and Thompson’s arrest on May 12 after they failed to appear on the fifth day of their jury trial for endangering children and permitting child abuse.

The trial proceeded without them on May 16, and a jury of their peers issued guilty verdicts May 17 to both on all charges, including second-degree felony and third-degree felony endangering children and third-degree felony permitting child abuse.

Fannon and Thompson both now face up to 14 years in prison and likely additional charges and prison time for fleeing.

Meanwhile, Thompson’s grandmother, Virginia Burk, 71, of New Straitsville, has been charged with third-degree felony tampering with evidence and two counts of fifth-degree felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to investigators during the search for the couple.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn alleged Wednesday that Burk lied to investigators and deleted records from her phone.

The case against Fannon and Thompson dates back to late February 2014 when emergency-room physicians in Athens and doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus found the couple’s 3-month-old baby to have a history of injuries in various stages of healing.

Athens County Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pepper said in court that those injuries included bone fractures in the infant’s shoulders, shin, thigh, ribs, fingers, forearm, toe and two places on the infant’s skull. Further, Pepper said, the infant had a torn frenulum in her mouth, a burn on her neck and various bruises.

She said that these injuries had occurred over a period of time in at least two and possibly more incidents.

The infant was placed in custody with Athens County Children Services and has since been adopted.

Pepper said that the child, who suffered a brain injury and is now 3 years old, has no use of her right arm, wasn’t able to walk until recently and walks sideways, has no peripheral vision, is mentally delayed for the rest of her life, and can only say three words at a time.

Fannon and Thompson will be held in Franklin County for a hearing related to extradition back to Athens County, the release said. That hearing could be waived, at which point the couple would be brought back to Athens County more quickly.

Upon returning to Athens County, Fannon and Thompson will have bond hearings, and ultimately sentencing will be scheduled for the pair.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn extended a special thanks to the Columbus Division of Police S.W.A.T. Team and all of the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office staff in the press release.