City man pleads guilty to child endangerment

Published 5:04 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

An Elizabethton man has entered a guilty plea to a child endangerment charge after police reported finding a young child unattended at a city park while the man was asleep in a nearby vehicle.

Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested Matthew Dewbre, 33, 302 South View Circle, Elizabethton, on Tuesday afternoon and charged him with public intoxication and child neglect.

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According to police reports, around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday, officers of the EPD responded to Kiwanis Park on West G Street to conduct a welfare check on a child after a 911 caller reported a young child was unattended at the park.

“They stated when they asked the child where his parent was he stated he was passed out inside the truck,” EPD Officer David Johnson said of the 911 caller.

When officers arrived at the park, they found a six-year-old child at the park and a blue Dodge Durango with a man who appeared to be passed out in the driver’s seat.

“Cpl. (Joe) Holsclaw said after several attempts he was able to awake the male subject,” Johnson said, adding the man was identified as Dewbre.

Johnson said in plain view inside the vehicle was one empty 25-ounce beer can and one partially empty 25-ounce beer can.

“I asked Mr. Dewbre where his son was in which he stated playing in the park,” Johnson said. “Mr. Dewbre admitted to drinking the alcoholic beverages inside the vehicle.”

“While speaking with Mr. Dewbre he displayed a flushed face and had slurred speech,” Johnson added. “I then had Mr. Dewbre perform a battery of standardized field sobriety tests in which his performance was consistent with someone under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.”

Dewbre told officers the child’s mother has custody of the child, but she was at work and he was babysitting the 6-year-old. Officers then went and made contact with the woman and brought her to the park. Johnson said he asked the woman why the child was with Dewbre.

“She stated Mr. Dewbre isn’t the father of (the child). She stated he is the father of her daughter,” Johnson said. “She stated she had to work and Mr. Dewbre offered to babysit (the child).”

The woman said she was unaware that Dewbre had taken the child to the park.

Johnson said he then placed Dewbre under arrest on a charge of public intoxication.

“It was obvious Mr. Dewbre wasn’t concerned for the safety and welfare of (the child),” Johnson said. “Due to the surrounding streets being busy routes at a busy hour and the easy access (the child) had to both streets without being supervised, I’m also charging Mr. Dewbre with child neglect.”

Dewbre appeared in Carter County General Sessions Court on Wednesday morning, where he entered a guilty plea to an amended charge of child endangerment. Judge Keith Bowers Jr. ordered Dewbre to serve 10 days in jail and pay a $50 fine as well as court costs. As part of the plea agreement, the charge of public intoxication was dismissed.