Mom of 5-year-old killed in Fountain City shooting to face grand jury

KPD officers arrested Robin Howington for two counts of Tampering with Evidence. / (Knox County...
KPD officers arrested Robin Howington for two counts of Tampering with Evidence. / (Knox County Sheriff's Office)(WVLT)
Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 9:57 AM EDT
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Robin Howington appears in court

LIVE: A mom charged with tampering with evidence after her 5-year-old died in a Fountain City shooting is appearing in court The latest:

Posted by WVLT on Monday, December 2, 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — The mother of a Fountain City 5-year-old shooting victim appeared before a Knox County Judge on December 2.

Robin Howington waived her right to a preliminary hearing. Her case will now go before a grand jury.

No date for a grand jury hearing was set in court Monday morning.

Howington's lawyer said she was already in custody as a result of driving on a suspended license charge out of Sullivan County.

A search warrant filed by the Knoxville Police Department shows Howington faces charges of tampering with evidence.

KPD released the affidavit in support of a search warrant for the shooting that happened on 502 Balsam Ave.

During an interview, Howington told police her 2-year-old son and the victim, Destiny Oliver, 5, were watching TV when a man entered the home and approached Howington with a gun.

The report stated, the man pointed the gun at the victim and shot her once in the chest, then left the scene.

Later in the interview, Howington told investigators the shooter was actually the victim's father, Antoine Oliver. According to reports, Howington said Oliver came to the home and shot the victim after an argument. Investigators spoke to Howington's boyfriend, Daniel Hensley, who said on the day of the shooting he witnessed Howington pull a gun on Oliver in the front yard. Reports stated that Oliver took the gun away and disarmed it.

Investigators said they were advised to take the suspect's cell phone after examining the crime scene. Howington told officials her phone battery was dead and she did not want to turn in her phone to police.

Howington reportedly tried to pass her phone to a witness, along with money in the bathroom of the hospital. Officials said they took the phone and spoke with the witness who said Howington didn't want officers to have the phone because of evidence involving drug sales on the phone.

Investigators said when they gained access to Howington's phone, it was wet and would not turn on. The suspect told investigators she did not want officers to look through her phone because she didn't want to incriminate herself because she sells marijuana. Howington admitted to investigators that she ran water over her phone in the hospital bathroom in an attempt to destroy it.

During a search of the home and outside it, investigators found video surveillance of the front porch of the home. Officials said the video showed Howington walking out of the house, where the weapon was located, in an attempt to hide the gun. Howington initially told police her boyfriend hid the gun in the bushes. After investigators told Howington they had video footage of her hiding the weapon, she told them she was scared to tell police she had a gun in the home. Howington then told police her 2-year-old son climbed into her closet, took the gun from the top of the closet using a stool and shot the victim, according to the affidavit.

Investigators said Howington admitted to wiping down the gun before throwing it in the bushes.

Howington's phone was given to a cell phone examiner of the Knoxville Police Department to attempt to restore the phone and recover all data.

KPD officials said Howington was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence. According to records, Howington was released from jail on the same day.

On October 17, a court date for Howington was reset to December 2. Howington denied a public defender and said she will get her own lawyer.

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