Kingsport couple charged in connection with infant injured in dog attack

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
KINGSPORT - A Kingsport man and woman have been charged in connection with an incident which occurred last week and that left the woman's infant son injured.
Amber Nichole Cleek, 21, 212 Lewis Lane, Apt. 604, has been charged with child neglect. Her boyfriend, 22-year-old Daren Skeen of 918 Federal St., was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
According to the arrest warrant filed by Kingsport Police Department officer Eric Alford, the incident occurred on Oct. 23 at approximately 12:30 p.m. at Cleek's residence. Alford states Cleek had lain her 5-month-old son Seth on the floor of his bedroom and left the room.
"Seth was left unattended for an unknown amount of time," Alford states in his warrant for Cleek's arrest. "Seth began to cry and Amber found Seth laying in the floor with the injuries. The injuries were apparently inflicted by a 7-week-old pit bull puppy that stays in the apartment."
Alford stated a large piece of Seth's right ear was gone and that he had also suffered bites and scratches to his face, head and arms. The boy was taken to the Holston Valley Medical Center where he was treated in the emergency room and later released.
Police were called to the HVMC emergency room to investigate the dog attack, which resulted in Cleek being charged.
Cleek was arraigned in Hawkins County Juvenile Court on Thursday and was being held in the Hawkins County Jail on Friday under a $25,000 bond. She has been scheduled to appear in Hawkins County Sessions Court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 18. Her son has been placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Cleek's boyfriend, Skeen, was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals. Police state that shortly after the pit bull puppy attacked Cleek's infant son, Skeen took a serrated bread knife and cut the dog's head off and then disemboweled the puppy.
Police investigating the incident reportedly found the puppy's remains at Cleek's residence with Skeen.
Skeen was cited in Hawkins County Sessions Court and released on his own recognizance.