Rockford man on trial for beating to death 3-year-old - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford man on trial for beating to death 3-year-old

Duran Johnson Duran Johnson
Home on 11th Street where Kaitlyn Head was found dead in March 2011. Home on 11th Street where Kaitlyn Head was found dead in March 2011.

A little girl details more than six months of abuse at the hands of her mother and boyfriend as she testifies in a Rockford murder trial. Her youngest sister, just 3-years-old, allegedly died from those beatings. Duran Johnson is accused of striking the lethal blow that killed Kaitlyn Head. Her mother, Melanie Grant already pleaded guilty to abusing her daughter.

The Winnebago County State's Assistant Attorney Jennifer Clifford says Kaitlyn Head had bruises over 47 percent her body. She says she suffered acute medical neglect along with food and water deprivation. She says Johnson and Grant were hurting Kaitlyn long before the police were called to their home March 18, 2011.

Kaitlyn's oldest sister took the stand to testify about the abuse. The girl, who we are not identifying because she is a minor and a victim, says before Kaitlyn died she was too weak to stay standing during the punishments. Kaitlyn would fall over as she was forced to march from one side of the house to the other with phone books on her head. When that happened the sister says Duran Johnson would pull her up by her ears, squeeze her ribs until she cried and then squeeze her feet. But the usual punishment for falling, which Kaitlyn had allegedly been enduring for the six months Johnson lived with them, beatings with a belt.

Kaitlyn's older sister says during the time when the girls where "on-punishment," which could last anywhere from days to months, their food was also limited. The girls would only be allowed to eat Ramen noodles three times a day and only a small, Dixie cup size, of water.

The State says Johnson and Grant both took part in the beatings. And that the day Kaitlyn died, Grant went out to grocery shop and came back to Kaitlyn bruised and battered. But the defense contends Grant was the real abuser and Johnson was not even there when it happened. They say some of Kaitlyn's and her sisters' injuries could have happened long before they ever lived with Johnson.

Grant took a plea deal to avoid a first degree murder charge. Johnson has pleaded not guilty.

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