"Horrifying" and with "thoughtful cruelty" are just some of the ways a judge describes what a Rockford man did to a 3-year-old girl. The judge wasted no time when closing arguments ended he immediately issued his decision on Duran Johnson's fate for the death of Kaitlyn Head.
"Guilty," says Judge Gary Pumilia.
Duran Johnson showed no emotion as the judge convicted him of two counts of first degree murder, concealment of a homicide and intimidation.
""Horrifying, how could this be done to children of these ages," says Judge Pumilia.
That was the judge's reaction to what Johnson and his former girlfriend Melanie Grant did to a 3-year-old girl. Grant already pleaded guilty to her role in her daughter Kaitlyn Head's death. Johnson's lawyers argued Grant was the one truly responsible.
"She already knew what she was going to tell the police about these injuries that eventually caused this child's death happened," says Frank Perri, Defense Attorney.
The judge did not believe the defense saying Johnson and Grant worked together to punish Grant's three children including Kaityln. When one person got tired of beating Kaitlyn during her punishments the other would take over. A forensic pathologist testified Kaityln died from repeated physical abuse. She had bruises on 50 percent of her body. It appeared she was beaten in the face with a belt, her ears pulled so hard they were tearing away from her head and her arms and hands covered in bruises because she was trying to protect herself from getting hit.
"I think there was justice for her today in that the people who are responsible for her living in that house of horrors are convicted of doing what they did," says Jennifer Clifford, Winnebago County Assistant State's Attorney
Johnson was not convicted of beating Kaitlyn's two other sisters. The defense argued it was impossible to tell when the girls got some of their scars. Johnson's punishment could be up to 100 years in jail. His lawyers already plan to appeal.
Melanie Grant pleaded guilty to avoid a murder charge in exchange for testifying against Johnson. She is supposed to get 22 years in jail. Her sentence is tomorrow, November 7.
A 40-year-old Rockford man has been found guilty in the beating death of his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter.
Duran Johnson was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder Wednesday. He was also found guilty of concealing a homicide and intimidation. However, he was found not guilty of aggravated battery toward victim Kaitlyn Head's two surviving sisters. He faces a maximum of 100 years in prison.
Head's mother, Melanie Grant, testified against Johnson as part of a plea deal on Tuesday. Head was found dead inside Grant and Johnson's home in 2011. Grant pleaded guilty earlier this year to beating her daughter but claimed Johnson was the one who ultimately killed her. In exchange for testifying against Johnson, she received a plea deal of 22 years.
A forensic pathologist showed Head suffered bruises and cuts on 50 percent of her body, her ears were tearing away from her scalp from being pulled, and her face showed marks the pathologist linked with being beaten in the head with a belt.
13 News' Rebecca Klopf was in the courtroom this week and will have an update at 5 and 6.
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