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Father acquitted of child neglect charge in Kingsport case

Kacie Dingus Breeding • Sep 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — After a three-day trial, a jury on Thursday acquitted a Scottish man accused of aggravated child neglect for bruises and a severe spiral fracture of his son’s arm.

Kingsport police charged Alan Minto, 30, after Indian Path Medical Center doctors found his 2-year-old son had suffered multiple bruises all over his body and a two-inch spiral fracture of his left humerus bone.

Minto told police he’d brought the boy in immediately on Aug. 14 after discovering his arm injury.

Doctors also found a “horrible handprint bruise” on the left side of the boy's face, investigators said in a report.

The child had been staying with Minto and his then-fiancee, Amanda Jo Ramey, at 1013 E. Sullivan St. Ramey was also arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Minto was only tried on the second count, aggravated child neglect.

The boy's mother, Rebecca Minto, who withdrew sponsorship of Minto’s citizenship amid court proceedings, told police that night she hadn’t seen her son in weeks.

In a Dec. 14 statement to police, Alan Minto said his estranged wife had brought the boy in mid-June to stay with them “until she could get on her feet” after meeting with him and Ramey in May, when their son turned 2.

About a month later, Minto said Ramey threatened suicide and was placed in Indian Path Pavilion for five days after he took her to the emergency room.

After her release, Ramey returned to work at his request. That’s when he said the problems began.

Although Minto said he “never really saw” either of his sons naked because he was sexually abused by his father, he started noticing bruises on his son's back and legs.

But Ramey always had an explanation, and Minto told police he believed her because he trusted her.

In her Aug. 14 statement to former Kingsport Police Department Detective Penny Makowski, Ramey said she would never hurt the boy.

“Alan makes me leave the room when he spanks (him),” Ramey told police, adding that she’d seen him “jerk the boy up by the arm” and heard the boy cry when Minto was in his room.

Ramey also told police Minto had hit her before, then abruptly clammed up. “I’m afraid to talk anymore,” she told police.

On Aug. 18, Ramey filed a second statement, telling police she’d “hit (Zachary) in the face with my open hand” but swore she “didn’t mean to hit him that hard.”

Shortly after hitting the boy, Ramey told police she awoke from a nap to Zachary’s screams and found he’d fallen over the baby gate. That’s when she noticed the facial bruising.

“I wanted to believe that it was the gate that caused the bruises,” she said, adding that she called Minto at work and gave him that explanation.

Then, around Sunday night, Ramey said she heard “a pop” after she “jerked him up by his left arm” and he started crying.

Around 4 a.m., he woke them both screaming and crying, but she didn’t check his arm.

She told police he often bumped into things and banged his head on the floor during tantrums.

In Minto’s second statement, he said Ramey always had an explanation. Bruises on his back were explained away when she said a “cat scratcher” (carpeted scratching post) fell. Bruises on his legs — temper tantrums.

The boy was asleep when Minto came home from work that Friday, so he didn’t check on him.

Saturday morning, he noticed bruising on his face but attributed it to Ramey’s explanation of falling through the baby gate.

The Monday following, Minto said he seemed fussy as he dropped Ramey off at work, stopped by the laundromat, and then drove to Rebecca Minto’s house.

Minto said he noticed the swelling when he got him out of his car seat but didn’t lift the boy’s shirt and actually see the injury until he discovered his estranged wife wasn’t home.

Immediately, Minto said he took his sons back home and picked up his insurance card, then “flew to IPH.”

“I had no idea it was that bad,” he told police. “I realize now that I should have paid more attention.”

“I wanted to believe Amanda when she told me she didn’t hurt (him),” he added.

In reaching their verdict, the judge informed the jury that they would have to decide if they had any reasonable doubts that Minto knowingly, intentionally and willingly neglected his son's welfare to such an extent that the boy suffered serious bodily harm.

After a trial that featured testimony and pictorial evidence that had nurses leaving the courtroom in tears and after three hours of deliberation, the jury still had doubts.

The verdict came back “not guilty” around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

An immigration hold on Minto was dropped after the court found him innocent.

Officials say Minto went Thursday to the Department of Children’s Services to request custody of his youngest son, Ramey’s child.

Ramey is scheduled for trial Feb. 4, 2008, on charges of aggravated child neglect and abuse, according to court records.

Kingsport man, girlfriend arrested in connection with abuse of 2-year-old boy

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