Starving boy’s dad makes court appearance

-A A +A
By Damon Lawrence

Child starvation defendant Matthew Dotson made an appearance in Roane County Criminal Court on Friday.

A Roane County grand jury indicted him and his wife, Amanda Dotson, for first-degree murder in June. They are accused of starving their 2-year-old son, Clifford, to death.

Matthew Dotson was released from jail on a $100,000 bond on June 29. Amanda Dotson remains in custody on a $100,000 bond.

Assistant District Attorney General Bill Reedy said pretrial motions are scheduled to be heard in the case in March.

“Today was just a status day,” he said.

Reedy said pretrial motions are also scheduled to be heard in March in the Shawn Smoot and Eric Gallaher cases.

Smoot is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Brooke Nicole Morris. Her body was found at Blair Road and Old Blair Road in October 2011.

Gallaher is charged with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of David Lee Harvey. He allegedly punched Harvey after a minor fender bender in the parking lot of the Grill & Pub in July 2011. The punch is believed to have caused Harvey’s death.

Reedy said he doesn’t expect plea deals in any of the cases at this point.

“They’re going to take their chances with a jury,” he said.


Kingston police arrested an Ohio murder suspect Friday morning.

Police responded to 1552B Mobile Drive on a call of possible shots fired. Chief Jim Washam said the noise was actually someone running over trash cans, but while on scene police questioned five people at the residence.

“Officer checked for active warrants and discovered that Mr. Robert Matthew Pennington had an active warrant out of Cleveland, Ohio, for aggravated murder 1,” the police report said.

Pennington, 52, was being held at the Roane County Jail without bond.

“That was good police work,” Washam said.


Tammy Ellen Rosado was arrested last week for failure to appear. The charge was unrelated to her second-degree murder case.

Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson said last week’s charge was for failing to report to jail to serve 48 hours on a DUI.

Rosado was indicted for second-degree murder in June.

She’s accused of killing James Cobb, who was found shot at the couple’s Kingston home in April.

He died a few days later at a hospital.

Rosado said Cobb shot himself. However, an investigator who interviewed Cobb in the hospital reported that Cobb said Rosado shot him.


Former Roane County resident Ralph O’Neal is trying to appeal a life sentence in his federal drug case. He isn’t having much luck so far.

O’Neal sought to have his sentence reduced under the amended sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Phillips denied his motion earlier this year.

O’Neal also filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. It was denied in October.

O’Neal has a first-degree murder case pending in Roane County Criminal Court.

He’s accused of killing  Ronnie Dean Cofer in August 2007.