Jury finds man guilty of immersing his 2-year-old in hot water

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Dartanya Levon Eaton

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A Forsyth County jury found a Winston-Salem man guilty Monday of immersing his then 2-year-old son in scalding water, resulting in second-degree burns.

Dartanya Levon Eaton was retried on a charge of felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in connection with a June 2008 incident. Eaton was sentenced to 13 years and 11 months to 17 years and six months in prison.

In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Kia Chavious said Eaton became angry after his son defecated on himself, and that he took him to the bathroom where he knew the cold water wasn’t working.

Eaton filled the bathtub with water as hot as 135 degrees and he placed his son into the water, Chavious said. When the child screamed in pain, Chavious said Eaton told his son to shut up and sit down.

Eaton and the child’s mother, Carla Marie Daniels, did not take the child to the hospital for three days. The child had second-degree burns on his buttocks, legs, genitals, ankles and feet, she said. According to testimony during the trial, Chavious said, Tusha Eaton, Eaton’s cousin and a register nurse, had told the couple that the child needed medical attention and that by the time the child was taken to the hospital, the blisters had become infected.

Dartanya Eaton testified during the trial that he never intentionally hurt his son and denied that he had placed his son in the scalding hot water. He said he had taken the child to the bathroom, ran hot water and left to get cold water. He said he thought his son was with him. But by the time he got to the bathroom, his son was halfway out of the bathtub and complaining about the hot water.

He said his son appeared fine and that he had called Tusha Eaton when he noticed a couple of blisters on his son. Even then, he didn’t think his son was seriously injured.

Richard Ramsey, Eaton’s attorney, said in closing arguments that prosecutors presented no evidence that conclusively proved that Eaton intentionally hurt his son. The medical experts who testified on behalf of the state could only say they had suspicions that Eaton’s son had been abused. Ramsey also questioned Daniels’ credibility, saying that she had given false statements and that she had been previously convicted of misdemeanor abuse. She also had run-ins with the Forsyth County Department of Social Services and was afraid of losing her son, Ramsey argued.

Chavious said that Daniels wasn’t the perfect mother and had been in a violent relationship with Eaton. Daniels lost custody of her son and was charged for her role in the scalding of her son, Chavious said.

This is the second time that Eaton is being tried for physically abusing his son. A Forsyth County jury convicted Eaton after a trial in 2011, but the N.C. Court of Appeals overturned the conviction because Eaton’s habitual-felon status was mentioned during the trial.

In the first trial, Eaton was sentenced to 13 years and 11 months to 17 years and six months in prison, the same sentence imposed Monday.

Daniels pleaded guilty to felony accessory after the fact to felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and misdemeanor contributing to a juvenile’s being delinquent, undisciplined, abused or neglected. She was sentenced to two years to three years and two months in prison. She was released in March 2013.

The jury deliberated this afternoon.


  • FaithC

    Now they found him guilty we need to do the same to him every day of his sorry life.
    He wants to be a big man and have power over somebody…let’s see how much power he has in prison when they find out what he did. Heis nothing but sick scum.

    • Bob

      Forget about prison. Just toss him in a tub of scaulding water until he blisters from head to toe. Then destroy him so he he can no longer hurt defenseless children.

    • Tierra Eaton

      The fact is he has been in prison for 3 years and he has not had any problems! So what problems is he gonna have now???? You people kill me talking about things you know nothing about he has never been scum and never will be!!! No matter what you people say about him.

      • jbob

        Yeah and I bet your gona pull the race card as well, like were pickn on him because he’s black. He just reassured my opinion

  • whatdidIread

    While I certainly agree that this man’s actions are indefensible, I don’t appreciate the dishonest title of this article… boiling water is 212 degrees. It makes it sound like this man put a pot on the stove and put his child in it… how about a little bit of real journalism? Is it possible that the writer does not know the temperature of boiling water?

    • FaithC

      That is what you focus on. I am sure to the child it felt like boiling water. It was hot enough for this poor child to have 2nd degree burns over the lower half of his body.

      • whatdidIread

        That’s not the only thing I focused on. I said that what the man did was indefensible. Do you understand what “indefensible” means? That about covers his actions. I stand by my assertion that fox8 should make some attempt to be truthful in its coverage, and to study what they’re writing about. I can’t count the times that they have provided ridiculous “information” in their news coverage. You’re right… to the child it might have “felt like” boiling water. But we don’t do news coverage on what things “feel like”. If you come and punch my in the face, it might feel like I was hit by a freight train. Would fox8 then be justified in writing up a news story, in which they say that you hit me with a freight train? See?

  • Christy Guy Davis

    What makes me mad is that his first conviction was overturned. He should had been in jail from that and then this incident would have never happened. And that sorry mother should have just as long of a conviction! When you are a mother you take care of your children above everything else, how could she leave that child to suffer for 3 days after??? Just awful!

    • whatdidIread

      The first conviction was for this same incident, which happened in 2008. His conviction was overturned because during the trial, his habitual felon status was mentioned. This re-trial and sentencing were for the same incident, with the young child and the scalding water.

  • anon

    Ya its sick what he did but my hot water heater is set on high and it only gets to 110° so who ever owns the property better fix the problem before someone else gets scalded

    • whatdidIread

      Actually, most home water heaters are set at 120. Although I looked it up online, and there are recommendations from some places, to set it at 140 degrees, to prevent Legionnaire’s Disease…. of course, one must put cold water in the tub as well, in order to prevent burns.

  • beverly ward

    I can’t even believe that people are debating the temperature of the water. This baby was placed in scalding water. Have you felt a baby’s skin lately? It is soft and pure. Shame on you for showing anything less than contempt and discust.

    • whatdidIread

      Who is showing contempt and “discust”? I am simply requesting that the ignorant people who write the news stories, do so with at least some attempt at intelligent journalism. The man’s actions stand on their own-they don’t need to be embellished. Nobody is defending his behavior. His abuse of his child is a separate issue from the incompetence of the “reporter”. If they can’t even get the title right, how do you know if you can believe any of what’s included in the story? See what I mean?

  • beverly ward

    In a way, I do see what you mean. The event in itself was so horribly bad, that any journalist certainly didn’t need to add to it. My heart just breaks when I read of anyone hurting a baby. The abuser is exactly where he needs to be and I pray that the poor baby is somewhere where he can be loved and taken care of. May God bless him.

  • j

    That’s like saying a man got stabbed by his family member but it wasent that bad because he used a butter knife, come on man get real

    • whatdidIread

      What are you talking about? Don’t you see the value of a journalist being truthful when writing a story? Words mean things. If they can’t tell the truth, how do you know what part of the story to believe?
      I used the word “indefensible” to describe the father’s actions. This means that no excuse, no “reason” no defense, NOTHING, can explain his actions. There is NO EXCUSE for his actions. Do you understand? That doesn’t mean that the “journalist” needs to lie in the article title. If you are reading a story about the assassination of JFK, do you want to read, “his entire head was blown off. Lee Harvey Oswald blew it off with a canon.” No. You want to read the facts. Yes, JFK is dead. But it does make a difference how he died, if only because we want to know the facts.

  • whatdidIread

    By the way, if the prosecutor had charged the man with “immersing” his child in “boiling” water, I believe that the case would have been thrown out. Because that is not what the man did. FACTS are IMPORTANT. I am sure that when the case was presented to the jury, no fallacious statements were made by the prosecutor, law enforcement, etc. I am sure that they stated the FACTS as they were. And the FACTS were horrible enough to get this man convicted. All I am saying is, journalists should present the FACTS and should be intelligent enough to realize that 135 degrees is not boiling.
    When you read the title of this article, what picture came to your mind?
    Because I know, and you know, that the only way to get boiling water in your home, is to put a pan of water on a heat source.
    Did you not picture, when you read the title, a man heating a pot of water, and “immersing” a child in that pot of “boiling” water?
    In fact, that is not what happened, and the title should not have presented that picture.
    Also, the word “immerse” means to put something in a liquid, until all parts of it are completely covered.
    That is not what happened, and that is not what the journalist should have written.

    With that said, I want to reiterate that the father’s actions were horrible, inexcusable, sick, indefensible, and a complete abuse of the trust that a baby should be able to place in those who are caring for him/her.
    The man deserves every punishment which is given to him, if not more.

    I think his actions were egregious enough, with the journalist’s coloring of them.

    • whatdidIread

      I meant to say, that his actions were egregious enough, WITHOUT the journalist’s coloring of them.

  • Tierra Eaton

    Matthew 7:1-5

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
    All of you people sitting here and saying how horrible he is and he should be punished to the fullest extent do u know him? Do you know his character? Or do you know just what you are seeing and hearing from the newspapers and on television? You were not there to see what happened to him. Who are you to judge? This man is my uncle and I know he would never hurt his child or any other child. Answer me this if he wanted to purposefully hurt one of his kids why would he wait until june of 2008 to do it when the cold water had been stripped since february of 2008??? Why wait he has been alone with those kids before on several occasions why not before why wait until the cold water is stripped??? I could care less what anyone says and how they feel about the situation but one things for sure and 2 things for certain you were not there to know. If I had any doubt in my mind that my uncle was capable of this I would not be on here now talking about how innocent he is but I know him and I know that he would never immerse a child in hot water. He took care of his bed ridden mother for many years and he bathed her changed her depends and everything else that comes along with caring for a sick elderly person. He never immersed her in any hot water. Just as well as my grandmother gave life to him and he took care of her he gave the same care and and affection to the kids that he birthed. The only thing he is guilty of is neglect because my cousin was not taken to the hospital at the appropriate time. Don’t speak on what you don’t know you do not know him or his character. You don’t know the love he gave to his kids or his family he would give his life for anyone of us just to know that we were ok you don’t know him so don’t judge him. There is only one lawgiver and judge he who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge your neighbor??? Don’t judge him you don’t know him!!!

  • beverly ward

    I don’t believe everything I read. From now on I’ll just wait for you to explain everything to the readers. Like I said, there was no need for journalist to say untruths (if that’s what you think it is.) Thank you for that eye opening perspective and as usual, you’re opinion. Don’t bother responding. Get a sign and stand out in front of Fox8. That is who you have a problem with.

  • Tierra Eaton

    I don’t have a problem with fox 8 I have a problem with people judging him when you don’t know him just as you and all the others on here did.

  • ginger

    The whole situation is very sad. I understand the family wanting to defend the “truth”, but the bottom line is the child was hurt. If he knew from February to June that there was only hot water in the bathroom, then why not wash the baby in the kitchen sink? The innocent one is the baby. As parents it is our responsibility to take care of our children and get them medical attention when they are sick or hurt. Do you think your uncle would have waited 3 days yo go to the doctor if he had second degree burns?

    • Tierra Eaton

      As I stated before he was guilty of not taking him as wellnas his mother. No one wants to see a child in pain or suffering. No one knows the full story. If he wanted to plead guilty he would have because he was offered a plea before hand for a lot lesser sentence. Tell me who you know that would not take a plea for lesser time just to get out of jail? He said he is not going to plead guilty to something he did not do. As I said before no one knows him and no one knows his heart it is not for you to judge. Just as well as all of you judge him you will be judged before god so be blessed.

  • Justme

    With the high cost of health insurance these days a lot of people try to avoid those cost. Not saying it is right, but, this is a little more complicated than some are making it out to be.

  • Sharpay

    The focus should be on the child not your uncle Tierra. I understand you wanting to defend him, but people snap all the time. I’m sure the family always want to believe their loved one isn’t capable of that. You also weren’t there when it happened so going off of a feeling that your uncle would never do that doesn’t support the facts. His job as a parent was to keep his child safe so when you know the cold water doesn’t work you don’t leave your baby in there and even take a chance of something happening. It was bad enough that he allowed that to happen, but then to not take the baby to the doctor when he had 2nd degree burns that’s inexcusable. He deserved a longer prison sentence than what he got. I’m sure it did feel like boiling water to that baby and was torture for the days he had to go without medical attention. I hope the baby is in a good loving home now and living a happy life.

  • Let's all go search for brains...

    No one has anything to say about this man’s superhuman ability to birth children? Perplexing…

    On a more realistic note, if the parents didn’t intentionally harm this child (which is highly possible), they certainly neglected him by not taking him to the hospital. Do you know who doesn’t take hurt children to the E.R.? You guessed it, GUILTY people. No one is so far removed from reality that they can’t possibly think a screaming child doesn’t need medical attention. Anyone, especially a child, with second degree burns would be screaming day and night in agony. They ignored a family member who was clearly knowledgable (nurse) enough to say the child needed medical attention and still did nothing until infection set in? Yeah, sorry but I’m struggling to find some sympathy for the parents on this one.

  • lank his friend

    I know this man and he is not that type of person so you can judge him all you want and you don’t even know him so shut the fuck up that’s what’s wrong with you people today quick to judge , but only God got the last say so!!!!!! I love you boy keep your head up God know the truth

  • justice

    My love goes out to the child. I know Donny very well and its not for me to attempt to put together what took place in the home. I find it very hard to believe he done this. I have been on trial before so I have experienced how the da have this awesome way of making you appear to be s monster. I have only been in trouble once and the way the da destroyed my character me personally I dont BELIEVE NOTHING in the news, definitely not the court system. Donny was never a bad person but at thr end of the day its for God to judge him not man. The court system I DO NOT TRUST because its all about $$$$$ and the sentencing is unbelievable. I Pray the child is in Great care but all that time he was sentenced to Im a living witness prison is Not what ppl think. They should have requested Donny to get some help if he is this bad creature they want you to believe. Question did the da recommend counseling for the child to help him heal mentally while healing physically, I doubt it because all he/she concern was not for the child really. The da was only focused on winning another case to move forward in the court system making more money. The focus should be on the healing of this child now that his father had been sentenced the da could care less about this childs burns, what affect etc this child is enduring. The da is putting his next story together because the next person that he had on trial is another bate for his rising up in the court system. Be wise people the da is not helping you he is helping himself. Instead of passing out the unbelievable time get these people some help. Putting behind bars just to sit, play cards, smoke cigarettes for years is not the key! Inmates are baits do some research find out how much money 1 inmate is worth. Again the da could care less about the lil boy but I pray God keeps the child covered and he heals physically & mentally!

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