21 year old Jessica Ashley May will have to serve at least two more years behind bars before her next parole hearing.
She is serving an eight year sentence for attempted aggravated child neglect stemming from the 2015 death of her 23 month old son.
Three members of the Tennessee Board of Parole have voted and concurred that May should be declined parole due to the seriousness of the offense. Her case will be reviewed again in two years.
A parole hearing was held for May on Tuesday, May 23 at the Carroll County Jail where she is incarcerated as a state prisoner. The parole hearings officer who heard the case made a non-binding recommendation to the Tennessee Board of Parole that Ms. May be declined parole.
The board members consider a variety of factors in making decisions on whether to grant parole including the seriousness of the crime, time served, victim input, the inmate’s institutional record (programs completed, educational progress, disciplinary incidents, etc.), and other factors.
May stood before Judge Gary McKenzie in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 and entered a plea to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, and received an eight year sentence as a range I mitigated offender to serve at least 20% before parole eligibility. At the time May had already served 568 days since her arrest on May 19, 2015.
Less than a week before May’s plea, her fiance at the time, 25 year old Cody Key was handed a 45 year prison term for the beating death of May’s child, 23 month old Colten Alexander May after entering a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder. Key is to serve 100% of the sentence but he was given jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.
Key is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County, a Tennessee Department of Correction facility.
The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had severely beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place but did nothing to stop it.
May, who was pregnant again at the time of her arrest in 2015, was later transferred to the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction due to her special needs. After giving birth, she was initially incarcerated in the Warren County Jail. Her child was placed in the custody of the Department of Children Services and is reportedly now with May’s family members.