RICHMOND, Va. – Fourteen years before Travis Plummer was charged in connection with his daughter's death, he served one year in jail for his role in the drowning of his 8-month-old son back in 2004, court records show, according to CBS News 6.
Plummer was arrested in Puerto Rico on April 19, after the body of his two-year old daughter Te’Myah was found in a suitcase tossed next to train tracks in New Jersey.
According to an autopsy report for Plummer’s son in 2004, the boy was left unattended by Plummer in a bathtub. The document said Plummer returned to find the infant unconscious. The Medical Examiner ruled the infant’s death accidental.
Plummer was initially charged with voluntary manslaughter and child abuse, court records indicate, but the legal proceedings ended in a mistrial.
Then, in 2005, Plummer plead guilty to misdemeanor child neglect and was sentenced to one year in jail, according to the guilty plea.
Plummer had a lengthy criminal record in Richmond that involved two counts of distributing cocaine in 2009, abduction and child abuse charges for a 2013 incident. Later that year, Plummer was found guilty of possession of a deadly weapon while in prison, records show.
In March, Richmond Police issued a missing person’s report for Plummer and his daughter, which said family members in Richmond had not seen either of them since October 2017.
Currently, police in New Jersey have charged Plummer with desecrating a body for his role in Te’Myah’s death, but legal experts said stiffer charges are highly likely.
CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said Plummer’s criminal past would likely be a factor in the sentencing phase of this case, if he is convicted. However, Stone said a defendant’s criminal history cannot be used during a trial.
"They can't use his criminal history to prove guilt,” Stone said. "It has to be proven with specific evidence. Not what happened in the past in other cases, but what happened in this particular case.”
Investigators in New Jersey said they believe Te’Myah was killed somewhere else and are actively establishing a timeline for when and how she died. Stone said forensics testing and records reviews will be critical for establishing Plummer’s connection to the suitcase the body was found in.
"Many times, they piece it together and figure out when the child died and whether or not he can be connected to it with forensic testing,” Stone said.
Plummer’s past child neglect convictions would not have impacted his contact with his biological daughter because Stone said only Social Services, or a court order, can limit custody.
Plummer is expected to be extradited to New Jersey to face the desecrating of a body charge.