TUPELO • The official cause of death for a 6-year-old child abuse victim should be known before the end of January.
Pulaski County (Arkansas) Coroner Gerone Q. Hobbs said the final autopsy reports on Camden Blair, 6, should be completed in less than two months. That will allow investigators and prosecutors to move forward quickly with the capital murder case against Joshua Oakley, 29, of Tupelo.
Blair, a first-grader at Parkway Elementary School, was taken to the North Mississippi Medical Center emergency room around 5:30 a.m. Nov. 13 with life-threatening injuries. Because of the severity of his injuries, he was transported to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and later sent to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Blair was pronounced dead at 11:16 a.m. Nov. 30. Hobbs ordered an autopsy be done by the state medical examiner. The actual autopsy has been completed. Officials are still waiting for test results.
“The final autopsy report hasn’t been completed so I don’t know where all the injuries were,” Hobbs said. “He appeared to have hot water burns, where he was scalded.”
The coroner added the child had other physical trauma consistent with being beaten.
“The full autopsy usually takes six to eight weeks,” Hobbs said. “The turnaround time is pretty quick.”
Blair’s funeral will be held Saturday at noon at White Hill M.B. Church on South Eason Boulevard in Tupelo.
Oakley was in a relationship with Blair’s mother and was babysitting the child at the time the injuries happened. He was quickly identified as a suspect and was charged with felony child abuse the same day.
Following Blair’s death, Tupelo police upgraded the charge to capital murder.
Under state law, if convicted of capital murder, the only sentencing options are life without parole or death.
While the charge has been upgraded, it is uncertain when the case will move to the grand jury for a possible indictment. The next Lee County grand jury is set to convene Jan. 5, 2020. If the investigation is not complete, prosecutors will have to wait until the March grand jury to present the case.
Oakley is being held in the Lee County Jail without bond.