ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A 34-year-old St. Paul man is facing murder charges after his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son was found dead in their residence last week.
Devioun Keith Johnson was charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the boy’s death, which happened June 25 at their St. Paul residence.
According to the charges, St. Paul police were called to an apartment on the 1200 block of Herbert on a report that a child was not breathing. When officers arrived, first responders were already on scene and found the boy unresponsive on a bed. The boy was pronounced dead.
Johnson, the boy’s mother and the boy’s 7-year-old brother were in the apartment at the time. Johnson was identified as the live-in boyfriend of the boy’s mother for about four months.
An autopsy showed the boy died of a closed head injury with internal bleeding in multiple layers of the head, bleeding in the spinal cord and bilateral bleeding of the optic nerve sheaths. The boy had also suffered a skull fracture on the left side.
The complaint states the boy’s mother told police he had fallen twice on playground equipment in the last couple of weeks while Johnson was watching him. She took the boy to the hospital after the first fall, and he was medically cleared. She did not take him to the hospital after the second fall.
The charges state she left the boy in Johnson’s care the day before, they were fine when she left and in bed when she got home the following morning. Johnson woke her up at 8 a.m. that morning to tell her the boy wasn’t breathing.
Johnson told police he watched the two boys and put them to bed between 7:30 and 8 p.m. on June 24. The boy had eaten dinner and was sleeping fine until the boy’s brother told him the next morning he wasn’t breathing.
The complaint states an investigation showed Johnson was the focus of a child protection investigation in Dakota County in 2013. Johnson got into an altercation with his girlfriend at the time, who told authorities he threw her up against a wall while she was holding her 1-year-old child. She said Johnson strangled her, punched the baby in the face gave the baby a black eye. Charges weren’t filed as the girlfriend did not wish to pursue them.
In the current case, Johnson had no explanation for the injuries that took the boy’s life. The medical examiner’s investigation showed the boy couldn’t have suffered the severe injuries from an accidental fall on the playground. The child’s mother also had no explanation, saying the boy was fine when she left him in Johnson’s care on June 24.
If convicted, Johnson faces up to 40 years in prison.