2-year-old Damian Sutton was killed by "Mafia Wannabe" Ronald Dimambro, 26
Trying to hold back her tears, Annie Nett recalled 2-year-old Damian Sutton, a Washington Township boy who prosecutors say was killed by the boyfriend of the child’s mom. “He was just so beautiful and smart,” Nett of Sterling Heights whispered. “Always happy to see people. He trusted everyone. ... I don't know what could have happened to make Ron do this.” Across metro Detroit, Nett and others struggled to comprehend the death of a boy with big, blue eyes who loved Elmo and toy trucks. Damian died at Children’s Hospital of Michigan on Tuesday, nearly a week after prosecutors say 26-year-old Ronald Dimambro shook and possibly beat him.
Hours after Damian’s death, Dimambro stood nearly silent in the 42-2 District Court in Romeo. Originally charged with felony child abuse, Dimambro now could a face felony murder charge depending on the results of an autopsy today by the Macomb County Medical Examiner’s Office. Bruises indicate Damian suffered more than shaking, said Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. Dimambro had a temper that sometimes went off, “especially when he drank,” Nett told the Free Press. “He seemed to have a short fuse.”
Last month, Nett was on a camping trip with Dimambro and Damian’s mother, a friend. Nett said Dimambro drank and became so unreasonable that she got scared and told others: “I don't want him in our tent.” Dimambro also told people he was connected to the Mafia as a way to threaten them, Nett said. Tuesday night, Nett was one of about 100 people who gathered for a fund-raising dinner at Younger’s Irish Tavern in Romeo, where Damian’s mother worked as a waitress. Proceeds were to go for medical and funeral expenses.
“It was absolutely terrible,” Scott Reitman of Rochester said of the death. “The child was only 2 years old. What could he have done to deserve this? I don't care what he did. He doesn't deserve to be beaten.” Reitman didn’t know the boy, but came to the fund-raiser to take a stand against child abuse. Lisa Rapp of Washington was also there to help.
“It’s unfathomable that someone would do this,” she said. Local advocates say reports of child abuse are up this year from 2012. In addition to the fund-raiser at the Irish tavern, donations also were being collected for CARE House of Macomb County, a child abuse prevention group that works with more than 300 abuse victims a year. “It's unbelievable — the community, the employees — everyone’s donated their time, their efforts, food and beverages for tonight’s event, all in the hope of sending the family the message that we feel for them,” said Younger’s manager Glenn Wilhelm.
He said Damian's mother, Nikki Sutton, was working at the restaurant a week ago when her son was rushed to the hospital. “We've been concentrating more on helping Nikki and helping the family rather than the horrific, horrible thing that happened to that little boy,” Wilhelm said. Dimambro remains in the Macomb County Jail without bond. He told investigators that he had shaken Damian a week ago at his parents’ Washington Township home. The couple had been staying at the home.
“If the death is as we believe it to be — as a result of this child abuse — then we fully anticipate upping the charge to felony murder by the end of this week,” Smith said in the Romeo courtroom Tuesday. Smith’s appearance marked the first time that he has taken the lead of a case since Stephen Grant was convicted of killing and dismembering his wife, Tara Grant, 34, in February 2007, burying parts of her in Stoney Creek Metropark and hiding her torso in the garage as their two children slept.
“I have a 3-year-old boy at home, and the idea of doing anything other than hugging him, normal people can never fathom,” Smith said. “This case struck us at the office, and obviously struck the community, so I wanted to make sure the defendant and the court knew how serious we were taking this.” Dimambro’s court-appointed lawyer, Randy Rodnick of Warren, declined to comment on specifics of the case.
Judge Denis LeDuc set a potential arraignment date on new charges for 9 a.m. Sept. 10 and a preliminary examination for Sept. 26. Damian’s family had been updating others on his condition through the Facebook page “Prayers for Damian Rylan Sutton,” which had more than 15,200 followers Tuesday. At Younger’s tavern, a 10-foot wide banner hung on the second floor that read “In Loving Memory of Damion Sutton.” People at the fund-raiser used markers to scrawl messages of love and support.
“God's new angel. Take care Damian, you touched so many hearts,” read one in blue ink.
DETROIT -The death of 2-year-old Damian Sutton is now being investigated as a possible case of felony murder. Bond was revoked Tuesday in Romeo District Court for Ronald Dimombro, 26, who allegedly beat the child to death while babysitting for the child’s mother, who was Dimombro’s girlfriend. Dimombro, of Washington Township, is accused of violently shaking the small boy with big blue eyes and throwing him to the floor. He said virtually nothing during the hearing.
Child abuse charges were dropped in anticipation of new, stronger charges, which will be determined by an autopsy Wednesday, prosecutors said. In the interim, Dimombro remains in Macomb County Jail. “If it comes back that the child abuse was the cause of his death, we will up it to felony murder immediately,” said Macomb County Prosecuting attorney Eric Smith. Smith is personally handling the case, which marks the first time he’s personally handled a case since the infamous trial for Steven Grant, convicted of killing his wife, and dismantling her body in his father’s machine shop and scattering her body parts across a local park.
Smith said this new case hits home for him as a father of small children. “In this case, when you’re dealing with the murder of a 2-year-old, I want to make sure my fingerprints are all over it,” Smith said. Defense attorney Randy Rodnick had little to say about the developments of the case or the state of his client. “We’re going to wait to see if the charges are amended and go from there,” Rodnick said. A new arraignment was set for Sept. 10. In the meantime, a fundraiser will be held 4-9 p.m. Tuesday at Younger’s Irish Tavern, 120 S. Main Street in Romeo. Call 586-752-4400 for more information.
Initially planned as a way to pay Damian’s medical bills, the proceeds will now be used to pay for his funeral, Smith said.
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