Johnson found guilty of murdering son

Horace Johnson was found guilty of the murder of his 2-year-old son Cortez Johnson on Thursday. Johnson pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Cortez’s mother Keyonda Lumpkins was found guilty of the same charge and was sentenced to 24 years in prison in October.

Johnson looked down at the floor when the guilty verdict was announced and later held his head in his hands. The jury members deliberated for less than an hour before returning their verdict. Johnson did not testify in the trial.

In his statement to the Columbia Police Department, Johnson said he took Cortez and Lumpkins to University Hospital when he realized Cortez was having trouble breathing. Johnson said Lumpkins had whipped Cortez the night before and had tied Cortez’s hands behind his back with a belt contraption.

Johnson claimed in the statement he had been unable to stop Lumpkins from beating Cortez because he was bedridden with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Cortez’s unresponsive body was brought to University Hospital with multiple suspicious injuries, medical personnel testified. The cause of death was blunt force injury to the head, said Dr. Carl Stacy, Boone County’s chief medical examiner.

The jury was instructed to find Johnson guilty of second-degree murder if they found from the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Cortez was killed as a result of Johnson’s perpetration of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

The state did not need to prove Johnson had ever struck Cortez, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said in his closing statement. They only needed to prove that Johnson had aided Lumpkins in keeping Cortez in a physically harmful environment, Knight said.

“We have proven this case beyond any doubt whatsoever,” Knight said. “Murder cases do not get any stronger than this.”

Public Defender Stephen Wyse, Johnson’s attorney, said there was no evidence Johnson had caused the head injuries which caused Cortez’s death.

“The state wants you to focus on the emotions,” Wyse said.

He asked the jury members to focus on the evidence rather than their feelings about the case or their dislike for Johnson.

Knight displayed photographs of Cortez’s body at the trial, showing multiple burns, cuts and bruises over his body. Some of the injuries were weeks or months old and some were inflicted within the last week, Stacy said.

CPD Detective Joseph Jackson, who interviewed Johnson when he was arrested, said he doubted Johnson had been unable to stop Lumpkins from beating Cortez. Security cameras show Johnson walking through hallways in University Hospital without crutches on the day of Cortez’s death. This evidence showed Johnson was actually able to get out of bed, Jackson said.

Johnson said in his statement he argued with Lumpkins until she agreed to take Cortez to the hospital. He left the hospital a short time later because he did not think Cortez’s condition was serious enough that he needed to stay, Johnson said.

According to a CPD news release, a month later, while Johnson was incarcerated for a parole violation, the prosecutor’s office issued a warrant for his arrest for second-degree murder. A similar warrant was issued for Lumpkins, who was already incarcerated for first-degree child endangerment, the news release stated.

Sunne, S.A. (2009). Johnson found guilty of murdering son. The Maneater, 76(26), Retrieved from

Lumpkins sentenced 24 years for second-degree murder

Keyonda Lumpkins was sentenced to 24 years in prison Monday for the murder of her 2-year-old son, Cortez Johnson.

Lumpkins’ defense attorney, Kevin O’Brien, will most likely file for an appeal sometime this month, he said.

“We feel like there was some error in the trial,” O’Brien said.

He declined to specify the errors.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton presided over the sentencing hearing, which took place in the Boone County Circuit Courthouse in Columbia.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight asked for a life sentence.

“This is a horrible crime,” Knight said. “(Cortez) died a horrible death. She showed Cortez no mercy and she deserves none from this court.”

O’Brien called Lumpkins’ mother, aunt and sister to the stand during the hearing. All three women testified that they had never seen Lumpkins abuse her son and that she loved him.

Lumpkins was found guilty of second-degree murder Aug. 31. Horace Johnson, Cortez’s father, is also charged with second-degree murder and will face a jury this coming December.

“Cortez Johnson lived a life of horrible pain and suffering due to the defendant’s neglect,” Knight said during the hearing.

He cited incidents of abuse, such as Cortez’s hands being duct taped behind his back, his mouth being covered with duct tape and being hit with a belt.

According to a Columbia Police Department news release, Cortez’s cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma to the head after his unresponsive body was brought into University Hospital with multiple suspicious injuries.

The Boone County Medical Examiners Office ruled the incident a homicide and warrants for Lumpkins and Johnson arrest were issued a month later. Both were already incarcerated, Johnson for parole violation and Lumpkins for child endangerment, the release stated.

In an interview with police, Lumpkins stated she had been aware her child was being harmed and did not seek proper medical attention.

According to the release, she was subsequently arrested for first-degree endangering the welfare of a child and transported to Boone County Jail.

During the sentencing, Knight said Lumpkins had gone to the hospital several times for her sickle cell anemia, but had never taken Cortez to the hospital for his injuries. She had deliberated for hours after his death before she brought him to the hospital, he said.

“She loved her baby,” Defense Attorney O’Brien said. “I don’t think her culpability is the same as Horace Johnson’s.”

Sunne, Samantha. (2009, October 06). Lumpkins sentenced 24 years for second-degree murder of son. The Maneater, 9.