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Grandfather: Burns 3-year-old suffered 'red as hamburger meat' | News

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Grandfather: Burns 3-year-old suffered 'red as hamburger meat'
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Witnesses took the stand Tuesday to testify in the case of a 3-year-old who suffered "scalding burns" in Campbell County.

The child's grandfather, Tommy Dwayne Daugherty, said the burns were "red as hamburger meat" during his testimony in Tuesday's preliminary hearing.

"He was real red," said Daugherty.

"What do you mean when you say 'real red?'" the prosecutor asked.

"Well, he looks real-- an example would be if you looked at the hamburger meat at the store, that's the color he looked to me," said Daugherty during his testimony.

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Parents charged after 3-year-old was burned plead not guilty

His daughter, Nakita Louise Morton, and son-in-law, Eric Bradley Morton, have been charged in the case. Deputies said the child suffered second-degree burns in areas all over his body while his stepfather watched him in the home they shared with his in-laws.

When the grandfather came home and saw the burns, he told the court that he begged his son-in-law to let him take the child to the hospital. Eric Morton apparently refused because he didn't want Department of Children's Services or law enforcement to get involved, according to the grandfather.

A short time later, the grandfather said his daughter came home. The grandfather testified that his daughter applied burn cream to the boy and called her doctor, who wasn't in.

Finally, two-and-a-half hours later, the child's mother and step-father allowed the grandparents to take the 3-year-old to LaFollette Medical Center. According to the grandfather, the couple apparently told the grandparents to give officials a fake story, but the grandparents told hospital workers the truth when they arrived.

The lead Campbell County detective, who interviewed the child, mother and step-father, chronicled what the step-father told him that day. He said Eric Morton claimed that he left the boy by himself to put another load of clothes in the laundry. When he came back, he said the 3-year-old was burned.

The detective said the couple is charged with neglect because they didn't seek immediate treatment for the child.

After the child was admitted to LaFollette Medical Center, the 3-year-old was transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center. A Vanderbilt doctor is also expected to testify Tuesday about whether the burns the child suffered were consistent with the step-father's claims.

Officials charged Eric Morton with aggravated child abuse and neglect. The child's mother, Nakita Morton, was charged with aggravated child neglect. Both have pleaded not guilty.

A grand jury will now determine if the couple will stand trial on the charges.

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