published Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Chattanooga parents charged in child's death remain free on bond

Thomas and Samantha Wallace await their bond hearing Monday in Judge Rebecca Stern’s courtroom. Their bond did not change and they remained free. They are charged with criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter.
Thomas and Samantha Wallace await their bond hearing Monday in Judge Rebecca Stern’s courtroom. Their bond did not change and they remained free. They are charged with criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter.
Photo by Tim Barber.
  • photo
    Camron Michelle Dawn Wallace, 2, died after being shot in the chest by her 6-year-old stepbrother.
    Photo by Patrick Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Theft, vandalism, drug and assault charges against a couple charged in the death of their 2-year-old daughter were not enough to send them back to jail.

Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Charlie Minor had asked Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern to raise or revoke the bond for Thomas and Samantha Wallace, whose trial date is Jan. 17, 2012. They are free on $2,500 bonds each.

Minor argued Monday that the couple's behavior while free on bond in Marion County required they be detained again.

After a half-hour hearing Monday in which the alleged victim of the vandalism, theft and assault testified, Stern ruled that the pending charges were not sufficient to put the couple back in custody.

"This is a mess between all of these people," Stern said. "I do not find it a basis to raise or revoke a bond."

The Wallaces each face a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the accidental shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter Camron Wallace.

Camron died moments after her 5-year-old stepbrother shot her in the chest with a .45-caliber pistol that he'd picked up from Thomas Wallace's nightstand on July 12, 2010.

Stephanie Bryant testified Monday that she had allowed Thomas, 23, and Samantha, 26, to live in her Marion County mobile home in September or October 2010, shortly after their daughter's death.

From that time until March 2011, Bryant said, arguments grew between her and the couple, who were not paying rent, and she asked them to leave. Problems reached a head on March 19, when Bryant and the Wallaces got into a fight. Police were called and arrested the couple, Bryant and her boyfriend.

Thomas and Samantha Wallace were released from jail earlier than her, Bryant said, and before she could get back to the home, the Wallaces had vandalized the trailer and stolen some of her property.

"It was completely empty of furniture, pictures, everything," Bryant testified.

The Wallaces were in the courtroom with their attorneys, but didn't testify.

During the Monday hearing, Steve Brown referred to a letter that claimed the Marion County charges against the Wallaces would be dismissed next week.

Bryant said after the hearing that was the first time she had heard the charges would not be pursued.

Contact Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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ceeweed said...

Maybe Her Honor can give the Wallaces a pass code to get into her gated community as they are free on bond but homeless. After the Wallaces dissed the charity Miss Bryant extended to them, maybe they will treat Her Honor differently as the judges' house guests.

September 20, 2011 at 7:54 a.m.
Veritas said...

These are two fine examples of "common white trash".

September 20, 2011 at 8:58 a.m.
terrybham said...

Veritas-You got that right. If I was King the first thing I would do would be to sterilize both of them. What do you think the odds are that the two of them will reproduce again? They should never allowed to be around a child again.

September 20, 2011 at 12:48 p.m.
ketchikan26 said...

She's pregnant now with a little girl due in December. Scary!!

September 20, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.
vaughn15 said...

And on what grounds were the charges being dismissed. No wonder criminals love the state of Tennessee; they get by with murder/theft/vandalism and on and on it goes. Disgusting pieces of crud. Poor Ms Bryant doing a good deed for people she thought were deserving. These people if you can actually call them human repulse me.

September 20, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
jesse said...

it's way past time for judge stern TO GO!!!!

September 20, 2011 at 4:52 p.m.
whatsnottaken said...

I love these stories. They perpetuate the southerner stereotype. Can't wait to read them every day online. Go people go.

September 20, 2011 at 4:56 p.m.
macropetala8 said...

"vaughn15 said... And on what grounds were the charges being dismissed."

Not enough evidence? Look what Casey Anthony got away with.

September 20, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
flutie said...

It's amazing that people who were not present in the courtroom and presumably have not reviewed or heard any of the evidence actually presented at the hearing possess such foresight. You all must be clairvoyant. Even more comforting is your readiness to convict and sterilize two people presumed innocent under our state and federal consitutions. Did any of you ever take a civics class in school? That is, presuming you ever finished or even attended school- which is doubtful given the keen insight belied by your comments. Perhaps, steps should be implemented to prevent any of you from propagating, as your gene pools appear way to shallow to support intelligent forms of life. It befuddles me why our local criminal court judges are smeared constantly just for following the law. The State made a motion. The defendants had a hearing (which in and of itself probably irks you to no end.) The judge determined the State failed to meet its burden by a preponderance of the evidence. Prosecutors in another county have indicated these new charges will be dismissed. There's no there there. But, regardless, you simpletons will still get your wish, as these defendants soon will stand trial. So, it seems to me you should direct your anger at the prosecutor for failing to make a compelling enough case to have the bonds revoked or increased. I have another surprise for you. criminally negligent homicide is an E felony in TN and carries a 1-2 sentence. Under TN's sentencing code, sentences under 8 years are presumed to be probatable, absent certain aggravating factors. So,if these two are convicted and are given suspended sentences, you might want to direct your anger at the DA's office for charging such a low felony and the grand jury for returning true bills for an E felony offense. then, maybe you should start a petition to recall all of the state legislators who drafted and enacted the criminal statute that established criminally negligent homicide as an E felony. But, Judge Stern is not the one who deserves your wrath. She is tasked to follow the law and not base her rulings on mere emotion. Obviously, this time-honored American legal precept clashes with your jaded and twisted world views in which mere allegations of wrongdoing constitute irrefutable proof of guilt. How comforting it is people like all of you are enfranchised.

September 21, 2011 at 8:58 p.m.
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