Killing unborn child leads to indictment for murder

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Payton McCarty (Source: Knox County Sheriff’s Office)

A Knoxville man was arrested Monday after a Knox County grand jury indicted him on a slew of charges for allegedly killing his unborn child during a brutal attack on his pregnant girlfriend, authorities said.

Payton McCarty, 26, was indicted last week on charges of felony murder, vehicular homicide, aggravated assault and attempted kidnapping, said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland. 

The investigation targeting McCarty began about 2:45 a.m. on June 16, when KPD officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Atlantic Avenue in North Knoxville. They found a pregnant 27-year-old woman lying in the street with life-threatening injuries, Erland explained. 

The woman was rushed to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, but physicians were unable to save the unborn child’s life.

“The investigation revealed that the victim and McCarty, the father of the unborn child, were involved in a domestic dispute of some kind when McCarty either struck or dragged the victim with his car and then fled the scene,” Erland said.

“At the time of the incident, the fetus had developed to the point that it was considered viable absent of exigent circumstances by medical professionals. The victim, meanwhile, remains hospitalized and is continuing to receive extensive treatment for the injuries she sustained in the assault,” he continued.

Erland didn’t release the name of the woman or answer questions posed about the case and McCarty’s arrest. 

According to court records, McCarty has a lengthy history of arrests for crimes such as possession of methamphetamine, burglary and theft. 

In an incident that foreshadowed last month’s deadly assault, he was charged with aggravated domestic assault in February for allegedly hitting his girlfriend at her Atlantic Avenue home and driving “forwards and backwards in the driveway dragging the victim.” The charge was later dismissed by agreement between the parties, records show.

McCarty was jailed without bond Monday night in the Knox County jail system. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney or when his first court date would be scheduled. 

Published on July 26, 2022.