Baby Addilyn trial begins with surprise plea on aggravated child abuse charge

He still faces attempted first-degree murder charge
Posted at 7:39 AM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 20:31:49-04

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — A surprise guilty plea from a father accused of nearly beating his infant daughter to death. The question now: Was he trying to kill baby Addilyn? That's at the heart of a more serious charge as the high-profile case still went to trial Monday morning.

The prosecution is still seeking a conviction for attempted first-degree murder.

So many have closely followed the baby Addilyn case. The 2-month-old was very nearly beaten to death more than two years ago in Lawrence County. The trial is being held in Lincoln County for a change in venue.

Her biological father, Michael Dwayne Fisher, is charged with aggravated child abuse and attempted first-degree murder for allegedly beating his infant daughter, Addilyn.

Addilyn's biological mother, Brooklyn Tidwell, will stand trial later this year on charges of aggravated child neglect.

Michael Fisher and Brooklyn Tidwell

Emergency room nurse Sherry Ray testified she was stunned at the child's condition upon arrival back in January of 2019, responding to this prosecutor's question:

"How unusual is it to see a 10-week-old infant with black eyes?"

"Very unusual at that age."

Fisher told the nurse Addilyn had fallen, but her severe injuries -- bleeding, broken bones and head trauma -- told a different story. Police investigated, and Fisher was arrested.

Then, just as the trial began, a surprise as Fisher pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse. His defense attorney says Fisher admits to hurting Addilyn.

"What happened to Addilyn is a tragedy and the person responsible is Michael Fisher," said public defender Mark Harris.

But the defense also said while Fisher abused Addilyn he did not want to kill her.

The prosecution will make the case he premeditated the beating, and it was attempted murder.

"On that night, Micheal Fisher attempted to kill Addilyn and he came so close," said Assistant District Attorney Gary Howell.

By pleading guilty to aggravated child abuse, Fisher now accepts a sentence up to 25 years in prison. If the jury finds him guilty of attempted first-degree murder, he could face another 25 years on top of that.

The trial is expected to last most of the week.

Related story: Parents to stand trial in child abuse case as prosecutors seek justice for baby Addilyn