Alexa Linboom was five years old when she arrived at the hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee. It was New Year's Day, 2012. She was blue and paralyzed, rigid in a posture indicative of severe brain damage.
Linboom's father and stepmother allegedly forced her, District Attorney Berkley Bell told CNN this week, to drink a copious amount of grape soda as punishment.
"I don’t know exactly how much liquid she [subsequently] drank," Bell said, "but there was [sic] 4.5 12-ounce drinks, plus water in between.” The autopsy report says it was 2.4 liters of soda and water over one-to-two hours, after which, according to Bell, "The child was screaming out in pain, ... went into a paralyzed state, and became unconscious.” She died in the hospital two days later.
The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape soda from her stepmother.
Tennessee's Hawkins County Sheriff's Office said last week that her death was determined to be homicide by way of acute fluid intoxication. On Friday her parents were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse.
When a person drinks too much soda or water, their blood becomes so diluted that it pushes water into the body's organs to try to get rid of it. That includes the brain, which fills with water and swells. Unlike other parts of the body, our brains don't have room to swell. They push up against our skulls until we lose consciousness. In Alexa's case, it also pushed down through the opening at the bottom of her skull, pinching off the blood supply to her brain.