By Josh Arntz
The Dickson Herald

Published April 25, 2013

A medical examiner determined 16−month−old Somarah Smith’s death was a homicide, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent testified last week. The agent reported the child’s injuries appeared to be from abuse, and an eyewitness claimed Edward Benesch punched her.

TBI Agent Mike Breedlove relayed this information during the April 19 criminal hearing for Benesch in Dickson County General Sessions Court. Judge Durwood Moore bound over Benesch’s case to a grand jury.

Benesch, 26, of Dickson, is charged with reckless homicide and child abuse (age 8 years or less) for the March 7 death of Somarah Smith. A grand jury will determine if the charges warrant a true bill of indictment.

Benesch told investigators he tripped over a cat March 7 evening and fell on Somarah. He said he was too scared to get her medical attention because he’d been drinking; and panicked the next morning when she had gotten worse.

Olin Baker is representing Benesch and noted “the entire case is a tragedy.”

“I don’t think there was anything presented by the TBI that’s inconsistent with Benesch’s story that he tripped and fell on the child,” Baker said. “It’s not in dispute. This is nothing more than an accident.”

Breedlove testified Dr. Tom Deering, assistant medical examiner for Nashville, determined Somarah’s injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma, similar to being in a motor vehicle accident with no restraints.

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