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Community reacts to indictments, arrests of Roane Co. parents

11:49 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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Picture of Clifford Dotson taken shortly after his birth.

Two Roane County parents are now facing murder charges for the starvation death of their 2-year-old son. Now, the community is responding to the couple's indictment and arrest.

Authorities arrested Matthew and Amanda Dotson Tuesday evening. They were taken to the Roane County jail where they each remain on $100,000 bonds.

According to Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton, a grand jury has indicted both Dotsons on charges of first-degree murder following the death of their toddler son, Clifford Dotson.

Investigators say when he died, the boy weighed just 12 pounds, was only fed once a day and spent most of his life in a car-seat.

Ronica Tilley lives in East Tennessee and has three children of her own. She says the case is an unimaginable scenario.

"I'd starve myself before I would hurt my kids. [I] put my children first, always," she said.

Jerry Harris, who has grandchildren, agrees.

"I can't understand it. I would go without, to make sure my children ate." he said.

Harris added: "There's too many places to go to get help if you don't have the food to feed your children, so I don't understand how there could be any reason for it."

Until he knows those reasons, Harris says he wants to see justice.

"These people need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If I had my choice, they'd be starved to death themselves."

Still in disbelief, Tilley expects there will be justice someday.

"I can't fathom what they're going through. I can't fathom what [Clifford] went through. They'll get their punishment," she said.

During the investigation, some public concern focused on the fact that authorities waited several weeks to arrest the couple.

Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton explained Tuesday that presenting evidence to a grand jury allowed investigators more time to compile a stronger prosecution.

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