Roane Co. woman gets 40 years in prison for starving toddler

ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- On Thursday, a Roane County woman pleaded guilty to charges related to the death of her two-year-old son that occurred in 2012.

In 2012, two-year-old Clifford Dotson was rushed to the emergency room at Fort Loudon Medical Center. Officials say he weighed just 12 pounds. By 4:50 a.m., doctors announced the toddler had died.

An autopsy later revealed that the child hadn't received enough food or water, and he had died of malnutrition.

"In my thirty years of law enforcement, I hadn't seen anything like that," said Sheriff Jack Stockton told WVLT news. "To that extent, it was kind of sad and depressing to deal with. The detectives working the case, it really affected them."

The investigators turned their attention to the parents, Matthew and Amanda Dotson.

Detectives revealed that the parents locked Clifford in a car seat and barely fed them. Officials removed the Dotson's other son Luke, then six-years-old, from their custody.

A later report from investigators revealed that the father blamed the mother. He told investigators that the night Clifford died, he came home around 1 a.m., on May 3, and began playing video games. Matthew Dotson then told officials that, after a while, he noticed no sounds were coming from Clifford's room.

Matthew Dotson said he went to check on the toddler, and that's when he discovered the child dead and "look[ing] as though he had been starved."

He told investigators that he woke Amanda up and accused her of starving the child to death. She then took the toddler to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

Shortly after the Matthew Dotson talked to investigators, both he and Amanda Dotson were arrested in June 2012. They were both indicted on first-degree murder charges.

Matthew Dotson was arrested in Jefferson City after he called local police to turn himself in; Amanda Dotson was arrested at her aunt's house in Cocke County.

At the time, Sheriff Stockton described Matthew as having "no remorse whatsoever. No comment. No shame."

On September 13, 2018, Amanda Dotson pleaded guilty in Roane County court to facilitation of first murder by child neglect and aggravated child abuse. She will spend 40 years in prison.

Matthew Dotson has a trial date set for January 2019.

Clifford Dotson