Man accused in alleged tree-cutting incident asserts his innocence

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

EAST SPENCER — Charles Ramsey is adamant that he did not cut down one, let alone two, trees that caused extensive damage to a newly constructed house on Third Street and additional damage to a second house.

Police said they had enough evidence to charge Ramsey with two felony counts of destruction to property, and the builder said the house on the end of the row, which took the brunt of the weight from the falling tree, will likely have to be completely replaced because of damage to the foundation.

Two separate trees at the end of Third Street, where four new houses have just been constructed, were cut down on different days more than a week ago, according to police reports. The first tree, which was cut down sometime Friday, March 24, caused minor damage to one house, pulling some siding away from the structure. The builder said it would likely be a less than $200 repair

But the second tree, much larger, was cut down sometime between Sunday and Monday, March 26 and 27, not only crashed through the entire second floor of one house, causing damage likely down to the foundation, but punched a hole completely through the wall in a second house, leading to two felony counts of property damage because this time, the repair costs will both exceed $5,000.

Ramsey and his wife, Dianne, live next door to the property, but there is a large amount of brush and a number of trees dividing the two lots.

On his YouTube channel, Ramsey recently posted a video that was taken from his back deck that shows a tree falling toward the houses, and Ramsey is seen on the video about 36 seconds in. He said he and his wife have been waiting for the tree, which he says was dead, to fall, and he has “days of video of us waiting.” And he insists the timing on the video proves his innocence.

“There is no way I could have made it through all that bamboo and all that brush in 36 seconds,” said Ramsey. “It’s not possible. I didn’t cut that tree.” He added that he had no reason to cut the trees or try to damage the homes, since he cannot see them and does not care.

“But the builder dug way in there to build, and I’m sure damaged a lot of roots, and more trees are going to fall,” he said.

Ramsey said the police confiscated a 16-inch electric chain saw, which he said would not have been able to cut down the larger tree, and he said the angle of the cuts do not make sense to him either.

“Look, I know how to cut down a tree,” he said, pointing to one in his own yard that had been cut some time ago. “I wouldn’t have cut it the way it was.” He added that police questioned him about a pile of wood in his driveway that had clearly been aged. But the tree that caused damage when it fell was removed by the developer, not the person who cut it down.

He also said he asked for a receipt for the saw, and was told it was on the officer’s body camera.

“We told them we have the video of the tree falling and he is on the video,” said Dianne Ramsey, “and they asked if they could have the video.” She said she was hesitant to cooperate because police were “not polite. And when we asked for a receipt for the saw, which he gave them, they didn’t give us one.”

Police have declined to comment further on an open investigation.

In addition, Ramsey said he was not charged with cutting two trees, only one, and that the charge is a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

But NC State Statute 14-444 states that “if the damage is more than $5,000, the person is guilty of a Class I felony.” The builder estimates the cost of the damage at $250,000.

Neighbors have said they heard the tree fall, but no one called police to report it. The damage was discovered Monday by a real estate agent arriving to show the house.

Ramsey said there may be another reason he was charged.

“I’m running for mayor and I’m going to win in November,” he said. “And the first thing I’m going to do is fire the police chief.”