Sep 16, 2023

Former Pueblo West foster mother testifies in child abuse death case

Editor's note: This story contains vulgarities and descriptions of violence against a child that readers might find disturbing.

The former foster mother of a 15-month-old Pueblo child who died in 2020 took the stand Tuesday and Wednesday to testify against her former boyfriend, who's accused of causing the child's death through abuse.

Dacey Spinuzzi, the former foster mother of Aiden Seeley, stated in her testimony that Seeley's death came at the hands of her former boyfriend Ramondo Jones.

Jones, 38, faces a single first-degree murder charge in connection to Seeley's death.

Spinuzzi was tasked by the Pueblo County Department of Human Services in July 2020 to watch over Seeley while three additional foster children were in her care.

She testified that on the morning of Sept. 16, 2020, Jones grew angry with Seeley for making noise, took him down a set of stairs to the basement, dangled him by the ankles and swore at him, telling him to "shut up." When Spinuzzi told Jones to put the baby right side up, she said he swore at her and told her to "shut up" as well.

The next time she saw Seeley, Spinuzzi said he was lying unresponsive on an ottoman. She testified that Jones told her that he didn't care what she did, but she better "fix it."

Spinuzzi also alleged Jones told her to deny he was present at the time Seeley's injuries occurred.

Deputies with the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene in the 400 block of South Coral Drive in Pueblo West on a report of an unresponsive child, and Seeley was taken to a local hospital for treatment. He was later flown to another hospital in Colorado Springs ,where he died Sept. 18.

Spinuzzi testified that she initially lied to law enforcement in several interviews, first telling them that Seeley had fallen from her bed, then saying he may have fallen down a set of stairs, all while denying Jones was involved.

Spinuzzi also confessed to lying to investigators and DHS about a series of injuries sustained by Seeley and another foster child in her care, giving detailed but fictitious explanations as to how previous injuries had occurred.

On Aug. 12, 2020, more than a month before Seeley's death, the toddler was left in Jones' care and sustained bruising to the chin, a swollen lip, and marks around his neck. Jones claimed to Spinuzzi, who was at work, that the child had fallen out of a swing at Spinuzzi's mother's house.

Prosecutors said that explanation was not consistent with Seeley's injuries.

From Aug. 27 through Sept. 6, the prosecution alleged Seeley suffered several other injuries in Jones' care, including facial swelling, a mouth injury and a painful injury to the child's toe, all of which Spinuzzi first explained to law enforcement and DHS as having occurred through accidental means such as "falling from a swing," his brother ripping a blanket out of his mouth, and his brother running over his foot with a miniature electric car.

Spinuzzi told the court she did not know how the injuries actually occurred and had lied to cover up a potential pattern of abuse by Jones.

Two days after the toe injury, Spinuzzi said, she saw Jones squeeze the injured toe because he was angry at Seeley for making noise. When asked to stop and asked why he would squeeze the injured toe, Jones allegedly replied that he "doesn't care what this little mother f----- feels."

On Sept. 16, prosecutors say Spinuzzi returned from work to find injuries to another foster child's face and groin area, which Jones allegedly attributed to the child falling from a straddled position on a fence. The prosecution claimed those injuries also were not consistent with Jones' explanation.

Spinuzzi testified that she had asked Jones about each injury, but he never directly admitted to hurting any of the children, except in one incident where he admitted to striking Seeley's foster brother in the back of the leg to discipline him.

On the stand, Spinuzzi said she was afraid to go to prison if she told anyone about potential abuse in the home.

While questioning Spinuzzi, Jones' attorney Adam Schultz attempted to discredit her testimony, pointing out that she reached a plea agreement with the DA's office in which she pleaded guilty on Sept. 23, 2021, to accessory to a crime resulting in the death of the child in her care, a Class 4 felony.

In exchange for her plea, a child abuse charge was dismissed by the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Schultz said the plea deal could be ruled null and void if the DA's office believes Spinuzzi was not telling the truth.

Schultz also drew attention to the details in some of her lies, including when she tried to explain the child's mouth injury to investigators by saying she had heard Seeley's foster brother say "baby (ate) my blanket" after he ripped a blanket out of his brother's mouth. She also said she had called her mother to ask why she wasn't told about him falling from a swing.

"You're good at making up stories, aren't you?" Schultz asked, to which Spinuzzi replied that she had gotten good at "covering up" over a number of years.

The prosecution reserved the right to recall Spinuzzi for redirect at a later point in the trial, which is scheduled to run through Feb. 16.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Questions, comments, or story tips? Contact Justin at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter@jayreutter1.

Editor's note: