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Dad who got high on fentanyl and ‘fell’ on 4-month-old daughter for 13 minutes, suffocating her, is convicted for murder 

Jesse Wayne Craddock (Lebanon Police Dept.), Harley Kemp Craddock (Hunter Funeral Homes), and the Travel Inn motel (Google maps)

Jesse Wayne Craddock (Lebanon Police Dept.), Harley Kemp Craddock (Hunter Funeral Homes), and the Travel Inn motel (Google Maps)

A 40-year-old father in Tennessee will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after he overdosed on fentanyl and passed out on top of his 4-month-old daughter for more than 10 minutes, slowly suffocating the infant girl.

On Thursday, a jury in Wilson County found Jesse Wayne Craddock guilty on a spate of felonies, including first-degree felony murder, aggravated child neglect, and simple possession of fentanyl in the 2021 death of young Harley Kemp Craddock, authorities announced.

The verdict came following a trial that lasted four days before Judge Brody Kane.

According to a press release from Lebanon Police Department Chief Mike Justice, officers on April 3, 2021, responded to a 911 call in regards to an unresponsive adult male and an unresponsive infant female at the Travel Inn motel located in the 900 block of Murfreesboro Road. The motel is located just under 30 miles east of Nashville.

In addition to police, personnel with the Lebanon Fire Department and Wilson County Emergency Management were also dispatched to the motel.

Upon arriving at the scene, first responders said they located the adult male — later identified as Craddock — who was described as “responsive but disoriented,” and the infant female — later identified as Harley — who was unconscious and not breathing. Medics immediately began performing CPR on Harley before rushing her and her father to Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital via ambulance.

Unfortunately, Harley was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the facility. Craddock was treated by doctors before being released into police custody because he was found to be in possession of “suspected narcotics.”

A subsequent investigation into Harley’s death revealed that Craddock was the infant’s father and had been left as her sole caregiver on the night of April 3 while Harley’s mother was at work. An autopsy performed by the medical examiner determined that Harley’s cause of death was asphyxiation.

“After an intensive and thorough investigation involving multiple agencies, Investigators were able to determine that Jesse Wayne Craddock fell on top of the child while under the influence of Fentanyl,” police wrote in the release.

According to a report from The Tennessean, investigators were able to obtain surveillance footage from the area that showed Craddock fall atop the child and remain there for about 13 consecutive minutes.

Prosecutors said that before being convicted in his daughter’s murder, Craddock was already in prison for probation violation.

“The Lebanon Police Department is pleased with the verdict that was handed down today and we appreciate ALL agencies that assisted us in achieving this verdict,” the department said in a Facebook post following Thursday’s verdict.

Craddock is currently scheduled to appear in court again for his sentencing hearing in November 2023.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.