A fourteen-year-old boy sat on the stand for more than an hour Wednesday to testify about the nearly six months of abuse he says he and his older brother suffered at the hands of his step-
mother, Jessica Cox.
He told a judge he and his sixteen-year-old brother were both beaten by the woman, but it was the older child who bore the brunt of Cox's abuse. He said the teen was forced to sit for hours handcuffed to a kitchen cabinet and went days without food. Then there were the beatings, when the younger son said he witnessed his step-mom hitting his brother in the feet with rolling pins and mallets. And there was the time where she allegedly held his head under water in an icy bath tub, before burning his penis with a lit cigarette.
The child said it all led up to May 28th when both children sat handcuffed together on the kitchen floor, their cuffs looped around a kitchen cabinet. They stealthily began removing the tupperware contents so the younger boy would be able to crawl through and free them from the anchor. Then they waited until the trailer they shared with Cox, their biological father Mike McIntosh, and Cox's son went to sleep, and slipped out a window.
The boys would eventually wind up at Farragut High School where a janitor called 9-1-1 and offered to go get bolt cutters until another school employee cautioned him police may want to see the handcuffs as evidence.
Judge Tony Stansberry bound Jessica Cox over to a grand jury Wednesday on charges of aggravated child abuse and child abuse in connection with the case.
But another witness who testified at the preliminary hearing told the court the charges aren't warranted. Although the child's testimony implicated his father as participating in abusing the boys, McIntosh is not yet facing charges.
McIntosh told the court he was struggling to raise two boys with behavioral issues who couldn't be trusted to tell the truth. He said his younger son would frequently lie to cover for the older one, implying that was what he believed was happening on the stand that day. His older child, says McIntosh, sexually abused his younger brother and step brother, in addition to feeding a neighbor's dog bleach.
McIntosh conceded he handcuffed the older boy to a kitchen cabinet in two instances, but denied it was for more than two hours and says that while he believes in corporal punishment- his wife does not. He says the day the boys ran away was preceded by an argument where he threatened to send them to military school.
McIntosh, whose been married to Cox for about three years, says his wife also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and seemed to call in to question whether she could have physically carried out the beatings.
As for the physical injuries to the boys- who were documented as "malnourished" when police brought them to the hospital- the defense appeared to be laying the groundwork for a case that will implicate the older son.
Attorney Marcos Garza, who is representing Jessica Cox, asked the younger child repeatedly if his big brother had ever hurt himself or others. The child vehemently denied the questions, even going so far as to cut off the attorney before he finished his questions, remarking, " I already know what you're going to say" and "the answer is no." McIntosh also recounted a story where the older son hit the younger one on the head with a remote control, causing a significant head wound that the 14-year-old seemed to attribute to Cox in earlier testimony.
The children no longer live in the Canton Hollow trailer, but stay with their grandparents who were present for Wednesday's hearing.