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Scott Co. couple accused of abusing month-old son

9:29 AM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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When one-month-old Isaiah came into East Tennessee Children's Hospital in June, his leg was broken with bruising on much of his body.

Doctors said it was no accident.

"He couldn't defend himself. He couldn't ask anybody for help. He was at the mercy of the world," said Oneida police investigator, Shonda Duncan.

Duncan said this wasn't the first time the Oneida infant had unexplained bruising.

"This child, what I believe, suffered long before we found out about this abuse. We don't know how long it actually happened. But luckily there was a doctor that realized something happened," said Duncan.

Duncan arrested the child's mother, Erica Matthews, 20, and father, Robert Powell, 23. They are both charged with aggravated child abuse under Haley's Law.

Powell is still in jail. Matthews is out on bond and defended herself when she spoke to 10News on camera.

She said she was the one who took Isaiah to the hospital as soon as she discovered the injuries.

"I did not abuse my children. I've never once laid a hand on them. I love them to death. I don't get how I'm being accused of something I didn't do," said Matthews.

But Oneida police said even if she never touched the child, she still shares responsibility.

"We had sufficient evidence that she knew what was going on," said Duncan.

In a statement to investigators, Matthews said she left Isaiah alone with Powell, even after he told her, "He's my kid, I'll suffocate him if I want to."

She stood by those statements in our interview.

"He said that Isaiah is his kid if he wanted to he could take a pillow to him and suffocate him but I never would have imagined him doing anything like this," Matthews said.

When 10News asked for clarification, "You heard him say those words and you didn't feel like that was a threat?"

Matthews responded, "I never would have imagined he would have done anything like that."

Warrants said Matthews took Isaiah to the doctor with bruises prior to the hospital visit. She said she took him three times because of the bruising but didn't know where they came from.

"I thought he had something wrong with him. I thought it might be leukemia," she said.

Both of the couple's children are in DCS custody.

Matthews says she has her first court appearance next wednesday.

Both are charged under Haley's law with aggravated child abuse.

The law stiffens the penalties for people who abuse children, especially young children. In 2004, Haley Spicer of Campbell County was severely beaten and badly burned by her father.

Previous Story

A Scott County couple is accused of severely abusing their baby.

Oneida police arrested Robert Powell and Erica Matthews on Friday. Warrants say Matthews took the couple's one-month-old son to the hospital in June with a broken leg and bruising.

A doctor found the injuries were not an accident. According to the warrant, Matthews told police that Powell said he could suffocate the child if he wanted to.

Both were arrested and accused of violating Haley's Law, which makes it a crime to know about child abuse and not tell authorities.

Matthews is out on bond and Powell is still in jail.

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