Crime - Sacto 911

Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to Auburn couple accused of contributing to child’s alcohol-related death in 1990s?

Q: In the mid- to late-1990s, a mother and father gave their 8- or 9-year-old son alcohol, which resulted in his death. The stepfather, Ronald S. Hunter, was arrested but I’m not sure about the birth mother. Did they serve jail time? This occurred in what is known as the “train village” area of Auburn.

Dudley Doowright, Aubutn

A: Ronald Scott Hunter and his fiance, Kim Bitz, were sentenced to jail for allowing Bitz’s 11-year-old son, John Calheim, to drink alcohol at a party before to a bicycle accident in which the boy suffered fatal injuries.

According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, Calheim was known in his north Auburn neighborhood for his bicycle stunts and frequent spills. The fifth-grader was riding his bicycle after the party on Sept. 9, 1990, and accidentally jabbed himself in the stomach with the handlebars when he tried to make a sharp turn. The blow lacerated his liver and he died 11 days later.

Bitz , who was also accused of neglecting to seek medical treatment for her son after he was injured, pleaded guilty to willful cruelty to a child. Officials said that despite being notified by neighbors of her son’s injuries, she remained at the party. She also left the boy at home the next day while she went to work, although he complained of stomach pains. That afternoon, he suffered seizures and was rushed to a local hospital, where he went into a coma. Calheim was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center and died Sept. 21.

Bitz was sentenced to six months in jail and placed on four year’s probation. A separate charge of involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor were dropped.

Hunter pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and to an unrelated drunken driving charge. He was sentenced to three months in Placer County Jail, placed on three months probation and fined $1,000.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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