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Girl, 5, forced to drink soda dies

SURGIONSVILLE, Tenn. — An East Tennessee couple faces a murder charge, accused of forcing the man’s 5-year-old daughter to drink more than 2 liters of grape soda and water, causing her brain to swell and rupture, authorities said.

According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and the autopsy report, Alexa Linboom was brought in to the emergency room on Jan. 1, 2012, by her father, Randall Vaughn, and his wife, Mary Vaughn.

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The girl was blue and unresponsive with ‘‘an abnormal body posture that indicates severe brain damage,’’ according to the autopsy, which was completed in July 2013.

The Vaughns were arrested on Wednesday and were being held at the Hawkins County Jail on a $500,000 bond each. Officials did not know whether the Vaughns had hired an attorney. Their arraignment was scheduled for Friday morning.

An investigation revealed the girl had been forced to drink approximately 2.4 liters of water and soda over one to two hours as punishment. The massive intake of fluid caused her brain to swell.

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