Polk County Murder Trial of Lakeland Mother Begins
The murder trial of Tivasha Logan of Lakeland began this week in Polk County Circuit Court. Logan is accused of starving her infant daughter to death in November 2009.
Prosecutors allege that Logan did not give her baby, 5-month-old Chauntasia Gardner, sufficient food and nourishment to sustain life. She is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. If convicted, she could receive up to life in prison.
The baby’s father faces the same charges but his trial will be held separately at a later date.
The State’s attorney told jurors in his opening statement that Logan deliberately allowed her 5-month-old daughter to starve to death in 2009. The defense maintains that the baby’s death was misfortunate but an accident.
Prosecutors claim that the baby was almost three months premature when she was born in May 2009. She was not discharged from the hospital until July 30, 2009. The defense attorney opined that Logan didn’t have the intellectual ability to care for the baby, who possibly had brain damage. “It’s evident that she did not comprehend the training (given her) by the doctors and the nurses,” he said, “and certainly not the written literature she was given because she can hardly read.”
Prosecutors suggested though that Logan was feeding the baby watered-down infant formula and may have been selling the rest of the formula on the side. They say that she was appropriately attentive to the health needs of her other children but failed to have the infant examined.
Doctors allegedly prescribed high-calorie formula for the infant, which Logan could get at no cost because she was on Medicaid. Deputies discovered regular Enfamil formula in the home after the baby died and Logan apparently admitted that she believed that the powder formula was to be mixed with water at a 1:3 ratio (the directions on the can indicate a 1:1 formula-to-water ratio).
The baby weighed 7 pounds upon her release from the hospital July 30. When she died three months later, she was down to 6 pounds, according to law enforcement.
It will be interesting to hear from the state’s witnesses as the evidentiary battle for a first-degree murder charge in this type of case is a tough one. In order to obtain a guilty verdict for murder, the State will have to convince the jury that Logan purposefully, and with premeditation, killed her baby. The additional child abuse and manslaughter charges still pending suggest that the prosecution suspects the first-degree murder conviction will be tough to get. The supplemental charges give a jury some lesser offenses to consider using the same facts.