Couple charged with public intoxication at city park

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Police arrested a local man and woman late Monday night after officers say they found the pair intoxicated at a city park with their three children.

Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested Christine Long, 32, of 711 S. Lynn Ave., Elizabethton, and Thomas Cox, 35, of 140 Honeycutt St., Elizabethton, and charged each of them with public intoxication and child neglect.

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According to court documents, officers of the EPD responded to Douglas Park, located near the intersection of Church Street and South Watauga Avenue, around 11:30 p.m. after receiving a complaint about loud noise at the park.

EPD Cpl. Sarah Ellison said when she arrived at the scene she could hear subjects in the park being loud. She said she then saw a man, later identified as Cox, get out of the driver’s side of a green car which was in the parking lot for the park.

“Cox stumbled as he exited the vehicle and walked into the park,” Ellison said, adding she followed him as he walked toward the park pavilion where other individuals were located.

When she spoke with Cox, Ellison noted his speech was slurred, his actions were lethargic, and he had an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath.

“Cox was obviously impaired,” Ellison said. “He related that he had consumed alcoholic beverages after arriving at the location.”

While speaking with Cox, Ellison said a female approached, who was later identified as Long. Ellison said the woman was also “obviously under the influence,” noting she was unsteady on her feet, her eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and her speech was very slurred. According to Ellison, neither Cox nor Long were able to follow simple directions as she explained the instructions for field sobriety tests to them.

“There was an opened 12 pack carton of beer in plain view in the front passenger side floorboard of the vehicle and an empty liquor bottle in the rear floor board of the vehicle,” Ellison said.

Officers identified the three other individuals at the park’s pavilion as the minor children of Long and Cox. The children were released to the care of another individual who was called to the scene to pick them up.

“Due to the level of intoxication of both Cox and Long, they were deemed to be a danger to themselves and others, particularly the minor children in their care,” Ellison said. Officers arrested Cox and Long and transported them both to the Carter County Detention Center.

Both Cox and Long appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court on Tuesday.

Judge Keith Bowers Jr. appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Cox, who then entered a guilty plea to charges of public intoxication and attempted child neglect. Bowers sentenced Cox to 11 months and 29 days probation and ordered him to pay a total of $35 in fines as well as court costs.

Bowers appointed attorney C.J. Roberts to represent Long and scheduled her to return to court on August 29. Bowers set her bond at $500.