Man Pleads Guilty in Caddo Court to Killing Mooringsport Baby
An Arkansas man charged with the death of a Mooringsport baby pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Caddo District Court.
Don Lee Johnson, 24, of Wickes, Ark., will return to District Judge Ramona Emanuel's court November 28 for sentencing, where per agreement he will be sentenced to a term not to exceed 25 years.
Johnson admitted killing a male victim named A.S., who was born February 24, 2020 and who died May 6, 2020, aged 3 months. Louisiana law prohibits naming juvenile victims of violent crimes.
Johnson, who is developmentally disabled, lived with his adoptive parents in south Arkansas until April 2020, when he ran away and wound up in Caddo Parish. His sister learned he was in a shelter and took him into her house, where he would babysit her two children, the infant victim and his 5-year-old brother.
The infant's mother found her baby not breathing and cool to the touch early May 6. An autopsy revealed that the child had suffered a subdural hematoma, also known as a brain bleed, and retinal hemorrhaging, and that the cause of death was from abusive head trauma, Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Johnson admitted to investigators that on or about May 1, he became frustrated with the older child who wanted to play outside, which Johnson could not do because he was feeding the victim. He admitted that, frustrated, he slammed the infant's head into the couch twice, causing a white pus-like substance to drip from the infant's nose.
Prior to trial, Johnson was found not competent to stand trial, leading to a year's delay in prosecution. Following a determination of restoration of competency, prosecution resumed in January 2023.
Johnson was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman. Katie Ferguson defended Johnson.