Mother Gets 40 Years In Baby Death: Prosecutors Say Child Was Target Of Torture

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

May 16, 2011 Updated May 16, 2011 at 5:22 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - "I miss my daughter, I miss all my children."

LaDawn Johnson, who was sentenced for the slow, torturous death of her one-month old baby girl, spoke those emotional words Monday.

The 26-year old Fort Wayne mother got 40 years at a sentencing hearing, but the penalty could have been more than 50 years, in a case of abuse that is bewildering.

Johnson was convicted last month of three serious felony counts.

Alyssa Johnson was just 29 days old when her mother showed up at a friend's apartment, saying she needed help, because something had gone terribly wrong with her infant daughter.

Judge John Surbeck scolded Johnson at the sentencing hearing for the numerous broken bones and burns the child had suffered, the fact that the abuse was taken out on the little girl in front of Johnson's other kids, and that she had been counseled to give the baby up for adoption, but that she rejected that option.

The child’s father testified at the hearing, showing some sympathy for the defendant.

Luther Morehead/Father: " It hurt, it hurt real bad. Like I said, more than anything it hurt me that I never got to see my child alive."

Reporter: " Do you think the sentence was appropriate?"

Morehead: " Yeah, but I don't think she had a proper defense though. I don't condone what she did. But she could have had a better defense than what she did."

Morehead was referring to lawyer Jeff Raff.

Before the trial, Johnson pleaded for a new attorney, claiming Raff refused to look into whether she suffered from Post Partum Depression, the argument being that might partially explain why she lashed out against the baby.

Johnson did say in court Monday she was sorry for everything that happened, the first time she's been willing to accept responsibility for the death.




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