Columbia woman on trial for killing her 2-year-old son

COLUMBIA | Witnesses in the trial of Missouri woman charged with killing her 2-year-old son say the boy had more than 200 injuries when he was taken to the hospital the day he died.

A University Hospital doctor testified that Cortez Johnson had burns, cuts and bruises on his body as well as bleeding in his skull that eventually led to his death in June 2008, the Columbia Missourian reported Wednesday. He was also severely underweight and dehydrated.

Twenty-eight-year-old Keyonda Lumpkins faces second-degree murder charges in the child's death. Horace Johnson, the boy's father, faces the same charge and is scheduled for trial in December.

Boone County prosecutor Dan Knight argued in opening statements Tuesday that Lumpkins is responsible for her son's death, even if she didn't inflict the fatal wounds. Knight said Lumpkins could have sought help for “little Tez” many times in the weeks leading up to the boy's death.

Lumpkins' attorney countered that Horace Johnson, 27, preyed on his live-in girlfriend's weaknesses while trying to isolate her from a supportive family. O'Brien said Lumpkins feared Johnson would kill her or the child if she sought help.

“What happened here is unbelievably horrible, but Keyonda Lumpkins did not murder her baby,” attorney Kevin O'Brien said.

Johnson was released from prison several months before his son's death. After fleeing a halfway house, he was shot in the leg on June 10. Cortez died 15 days later.

A hospital worker testified that Lumpkins appeared “flat” and emotionless when she brought the child into the emergency room. He was pronounced dead soon thereafter.

A pediatric burn specialist and neuropathology expert testified that the boy had been harmed for at least one month before his death. His face, buttocks and genitalia had burns.

Two acquaintances also said in court that they saw Lumpkins abuse her son multiple times. One woman said she saw Lumpkins order Cortez to hit a boy who had pushed him down. The mother reportedly said that she “didn't raise no punk.”

Chenette Hill, Lumpkin's aunt and one-time roommate, testified Wednesday that her niece struggled with daily life in part due to sickle cell anemia. Police found several bottles of prescription morphine in Lumpkin's house for the illness she has battled since childhood, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported Wednesday afternoon.

Hill also said that Johnson threatened to kill her if she didn't leave the apartment she shared with Lumpkin. Johnson moved in afterwards.