Saturday, July 08, 2000

Mom cleared of felony in death of infant son

Hamilton woman guilty of misdemeanors in boy's suffocation

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — A Hamilton woman on Friday was cleared of a felony involuntary manslaughter charge in the 1999 death of her 5-month-old son.

        But Butler County Common Pleas Judge Matthew Crehan found Lori Johnson guilty of two misdemeanor charges of endangering children involving the infant and a second child, now 3.

        Ms. Johnson, 22, faces up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine on each charge, said Drew Engel, her lawyer.

        She remains free on bond and will be sentenced Aug. 15. Judge Crehan ordered a pre-sentence investigation and said officials must check her home weekly.

        During the three-day trial, for which Ms. Johnson had waived a jury, a forensic pathologist said Ms. Johnson's infant, George Bowling III, suffocated on a plastic bag.

        “The court finds that this tragedy was an accident the defendant could not foresee happening,” Judge Crehan said, in acquitting Ms. Johnson of involuntary manslaughter.

        He said there was no evidence that anyone could have anticipated that the baby would move from the couch on which he was sleeping to the plastic bag.

        Several Hamilton police officers and a fire department paramedic testified Ms. Johnson told them that she had placed the baby on a couch before going to sleep June 12, 1999, but awoke to find the baby off the couch and partially under or wrapped in the bag.

        Witnesses also said the Ross Avenue home where the baby died was messy and cluttered. They said the rooms were full of uneaten and dried food, soiled diapers, cigarette lighters and electric cords.

        Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Pat Moeller argued that the environment — including plastic bags laying around — led to the death. Mr. Moeller had no comment on the judge's decision.

        Mr. Engel, who acknowledged the house was a mess, said he didn't believe there was enough evidence to support the involun tary manslaughter charge.

        “We were never really expecting there would be a guilty verdict on that,” he said.

        He said Ms. Johnson has a limited education, had a poor upbringing and was not properly taught how to be a good parent.

        Ms. Johnson's other two children, Kimberly Bowling, 5, and Casey Bowling, 3, are living with other relatives who have legal custody, Mr. Engel said.

        Ms. Johnson would not comment.

        “I don't know how it is that she slipped through the cracks,” Mr. Engel said. “I know that this entire mess should never have occurred, and I think she knows it. She has to live with what happened and the shame of it for the rest of her life.”


Breaking the stained-glass ceiling
Stadium seeks 800 for vending jobs
Bedinghaus ad touts stadium projects
Dachau liberators to hold reunion here
Kids snatch up Potter book
List of today's Potter parties
Test your knowledge of Harry Potter
Glossary of Harry speak
'Harry Potter' artist adds magic touch
Metallica fans expected to jam I-71
City acts on street safety
Judges move to end probation office dispute
Mailbag full of surprises
Tech college leader named
Army players add sizzle to Pops' big-band sounds
Pig Parade: Pork Rules
Who should be cast away?
Aquarium attendance at a peak
Bank robbery is 38th this year
Bike trail opening in Woodlawn
Boy, 16, charged in killing
Hamilton's aim: better ballpark
Kentucky Digest
Law on sex offenders upheld
Local Digest
Man, 19, indicted in killing of pizza driver
Man indicted in rape of girl
- Mom cleared of felony in death of infant son
Pleasant Ridge has block party
Troopers reject contract offer