By Amanda Klein | September 26, 2018
Following a three day non-jury trial that concluded on Wednesday, the father of a 4-month-old infant was found not guilty in his death.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani said there was insufficient evidence to establish that 18-year-old De-John Johnson acted intentionally or recklessly in the death of his son Isaiah Brooks-Leonard in February of 2017.
Allegheny County Police homicide detectives alleged in a criminal complaint that Johnson and his mother, Teonita Askew, were alone with the child on Feb. 6, 2017, when the child went into cardiac arrest and later died after being taken to a hospital.
An autopsy revealed the child had bruising and scrapes on his face, right hip and ankles, and his upper lip was torn. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the infant died of asphyxiation due to smothering and the manner of death was homicide.
Testimony during the trial revealed the infant was fine around 12 a.m., but when Johnson woke up shortly after 3 a.m. the infant wasn’t breathing.
Prosecutors say that Johnson put a pacifier in the baby’s mouth and covered his mouth with his hand and suffocated the infant, and in doing so caused the injury to the infant’s lip.
The pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that the infant died of suffocation and the injuries to his face were caused by blunt force trauma. He also said it was unlikely they could have been caused by Johnson accidentally lying on the infant.
While a pathologist called by the defense agreed the child died as a result of being suffocated, he also testified he could not determine if it was intentional or not.
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