Moses was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths.
River Bates, 3, and his brother Leland, 5, died as the result of elevated body core temperatures. Investigators believe the boys had been confined inside a space in extreme summer heat and their bodies overheated, causing their deaths, according to reports.
The tragic case has been named the No. 5 story on the list of Top 10 for 2012, by vote of Cleveland Daily Banner editors and staff writers.
Autopsy results concurred with local investigators that the two boys died from hyperthermia, or elevated body core temperature, according to reports.
“Through investigation and statements, investigators found reason to believe the boys died in a car and an autopsy ruled the cause of death to be from hyperthermia,” said Bob Gault, media-relations coordinator for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, following Bates’ indictment by a Bradley County grand jury.
Temperatures that day were in the 100s, with some areas of Bradley County recording as high as a 107-degree ambient temperature.
Criminal Investigations Division detectives with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office began looking for answers after first responders rushed to an Armstrong Road home around 3 p.m. June 28, where they had reports of two young children unresponsive and possibly drowned.
Initially, investigators learned the children had possibly been playing outside on a Slip-and-Slide water toy. A first responder on the scene questioned why the boys bodies were wet.
River Bates’ body core temperature was 109 degrees after being transported to SkyRidge Medical Center, according to Dr. Jeff Miller’s autopsy and toxicology reports.
Leland Bates was flown to Erlanger Medical Center where he later died. His core temperature was reportedly 103 degrees after medical treatment to cool his body while in transport to the Chattanooga hospital, according to Miller.
“Kids in general have areas which make them much more susceptible to heat injury. Kids produce more heat per body/calorie count than adults do. If they are active, they are producing more heat. Their cardiovascular system has a lower output rate and a lower heart rate and they don’t push as much blood. That decreases their ability to push more blood out of the core to the periphery. They are more susceptible to gain heat from the environment than we (adults) are,” explained Miller.
Miller also said children have “a reduced capacity for sweating.”
He also said they don’t have the cognitive ability to understand heat and its dangers.
“To them, it’s hot ... ‘need more Kool-Aid,’ then they are right back outside playing again,” Miller said.
The heat affected the each child’s hypothalamus which regulates the body’s heating and cooling.
The cycle of heat-related illness is complex, according to Miller.
Ultimately, the cycle evolves with the brain and body shutting down and possibly causing death.
According to the results of the autopsy, which was performed at UT Medical Center, both boys appeared to be well-hydrated and nourished.
“What stands out the most is they were normal, healthy children. There was nothing wrong with them except they came in and died shortly after,” Miller said.
The autopsy report also indicated drugs and narcotics in their system consistent with medical personnel attempting to save their lives.
Investigators went back on July 13, to the Keith Valley Road address where Bates and the children lived after receiving information about possible alleged drug activity, according to Gault,
Bates was later charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse/endangerment, four counts of initiation of manufacture of methamphetamine and one count of promotion of meth manufacture, according to reports after the investigation expanded.
The drug charges are the result of detectives returning to the home on a search warrant, according to Gault.
Public defenders Richard Hughes and John Fortuno will be representing Bates.
A motions hearing was set for April 19, 2013, with a trial date set for Aug. 27.