COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. — A Georgia couple’s five children were put in state custody after the parents were charged with a misdemeanor in Tennessee.
According to an affidavit obtained by WKRN-TV, Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams were traveling from Georgia to a funeral in Chicago on Feb. 17 when they were pulled over by Tennessee Highway Patrol on Interstate 24, allegedly for having dark-tinted windows and using the left lane without actively passing.
After being pulled over, the state trooper said he smelled marijuana and a search of their Dodge Durango resulted in the seizure of about five grams of marijuana.
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Both of the parents were charged with simple possession, a Class A misdemeanor.
Williams was arrested and Clayborne was cited but not arrested and told she was free to leave with her children.
According to the Tennessee Lookout, six hours after the traffic stop, as Clayborne was sitting in the criminal justice center waiting for Williams’ release, the five children - a breast-feeding 4-month-old, as well children 2, 3, 5 and 7 were forcibly removed from her side by Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
Clayborne said an officer restrained her from reaching for her crying baby.
The Tennessee Lookout reports that days later when the parents appeared before a Coffee County juvenile judge for their first hearing, they were asked to submit to urine drug screens.
Williams tested positive for THC and Clayborne tested negative for illegal substances.
Williams and Clayborne then submitted to hair follicle tests, which came back positive for methamphetamines, fentanyl, and oxycodone in both parents.
They both deny using the substances.
“Certainly, there are more facts and circumstances that exist that the defendants have chosen not to disclose during their efforts to try this matter in the court of public opinion and the realm of politics. My office will only try this matter in the criminal court of law,” District Attorney Craig Northcott said.
Both Williams and Clayborne appeared in juvenile court Monday for a hearing that pertains to the safety and well-being of the children.
According to DCS, the five children are currently staying with a family member.
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Northcott issued the following statement:
“Deonte Rashaud Williams of Snellville, Georgia, is charged in Case No. 2023-CR- 516 with Simple Possession, a Class A misdemeanor. This stems from a traffic stop on I-24 by the Tennessee Highway Patrol on February 17, 2023. His first court appearance was on February 21, 2023, in Coffee County General Sessions Court. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 20, 2023, at 9 a.m. He was released on a $2,500 bond.
Bianca Paige Clayborne of Lawrenceville, Georgia, is charged in Case No. 2023- CR-517 with Simple Possession, a Class A misdemeanor. This stems from the same incident described above. Her court appearances have coincided with Williams, and she is also scheduled to next appear in Coffee County General Sessions Court on March 20, 2023, at 9 a.m. She was issued a summons in lieu of arrest.
As to any concerns regarding the care, custody, and control of the minor children that were with the defendants at the time of these charges, the Office of the District Attorney plays no role in those actions or decisions. However, the officers involved fulfilled their obligation pursuant to TCA §38-3-116 and other applicable laws that require law enforcement to ensure that minors are properly protected at any time that a parent or child is taken into custody by contacting the Department of Children Services to alert them of the situation. The Department of Children Services then apparently took steps related to the defendants’ minor children.
Due to legal and ethical limitations, I will be releasing no further information regarding these cases at this time. Certainly, there are more facts and circumstances that exist that the defendants have chosen not to disclose during their efforts to try this matter in the court of public opinion and the realm of politics. My office will only try this matter in the criminal court of law.
My office will move forward with the pending charges against the defendants to seek an appropriate and just result. I trust that the juvenile justice system will similarly act to obtain a just and efficient result that is in the best interests of the children. I have complete confidence that Juvenile Court Judge Greg Perry has made all decisions to this point that are in accordance with the law and what he believes is required to protect the children and will continue to do so going forward.”
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