Trial date continued for Newport News couple charged in child's death

Date: 2015-01-20

By Ashley K. Speed

EWPORT NEWS — A new hearing date has been set for a Newport News couple charged in the death of their 7-year-old adopted daughter..

Terri Dennis, 32, and Pamela Dennis, 41, are charged in the April 2013 homicide of Terrilynn Destiny Dennis. Both are charged with murder and child abuse. Their trial date was set for Jan. 27 in Newport News Circuit Court, but has been continued, according to online court documents. A new hearing date has been set for Feb. 9, where a new trial date could be selected.

Officers responded about 1:40 a.m. April 4, 2013, to the 200 block of Gallery Court after receiving a call that a 7-year-old girl was not breathing, according to police. When police arrived, they found family members performing CPR on the girl, and they took over CPR until paramedics arrived. The girl was transported to a local hospital where she died a short time later, police said.

Paramedics were called more than eight hours after Pamela Dennis noticed the girl's tongue had turned purple and she was unresponsive, the criminal complaint states.

The couple was arrested in November 2013. The investigation into the child's death took several months because of the complexity of the case, according to police.

The girl's cause of death was delayed because of peritonitis — inflammation to the tissue covering the abdomen and other organs — which was caused by blunt force trauma, in addition to medical and physical neglect, according to a criminal complaint filed in Newport News Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Pamela Dennis told detectives the girl had spina bifida and was considered a special needs child, according to a criminal complaint.

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