Mother of girl beaten to death testifies against her former boyf - – Rockford’s News Leader

Mother of girl beaten to death testifies against her former boyfriend


The mother of a Rockford girl beaten to death testifies about how she participated in her daughter's abuse. The mom's former boyfriend Duran Johnson is on trial for killing the little girl.  It gave the defense a chance to poke holes in the state's theory that Johnson ultimately murdered Kaitlyn Head.


Melanie Grant was solemn and at times defensive about her role in beating and abusing her 3-year-old daughter.


"It's possible that you squeezed Kaitlyn's stomach so hard that she passed out?" ask Shauna Gustafson, defense attorney.


"Yes," says Grant.


Kaitlyn Head was found dead inside the Rockford home Grant shared with her then boyfriend Duran Johnson. Grant took a plea deal to avoid a murder charge in exchange for testifying against Johnson. Grant says she would beat and punish her daughter but Johnson stuck the blows that ultimately killed Kaitlyn when Grant was out grocery shopping.


"Can you describe to me the marks on Kaitlyn's face and head?" asks Gustafson.

 "She has bruising on her forehead, her eye and her ear," says Grant.


A forensic pathologist testified Kaitlyn suffered extreme abuse. She had bruises and cuts on 50 percent of her body. Her chest and hips had scratch marks from someone squeezing her. Her ears had been pulled so hard they were tearing away from her scalp. Her face had marks that the doctor believed showed she was beaten in the head with a belt. And there were bruises on her arms possibly from trying to protect herself from an attack.


"I prefer to describe them as injuries that are consistent with that part of the body being used to try to shield oneself from additional impacts," says Dr. Vincent Tranchida.


The defense argues Johnson didn't cause those injuries Grant did.


"Do you remember telling Detective Eagleson that you did most of the discipline because they were your children?" asks Gustafson.

"Yes," says Grant.


Johnson has pleaded not guilty to killing Kaitlyn. Closing arguments still haven't happened. The trial is expected to wrap tomorrow.

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