Thursday, August 26, 2004

Baby starved to death; mother sent to prison

The Associated Press

CANTON, Ohio - A three-judge panel convicted a woman of murder Wednesday in the starving death of her 17-month-old son and sentenced her to 15 years to life in prison.

The Stark County Common Pleas Court trial of Juanita Johnson-Millender, 19, lasted three days. Judges heard testimony without a jury and returned the verdict in the death Jan. 28 of Joshua Rumph.

An autopsy found that Joshua weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces. He had weighed nearly 18 pounds three months earlier, investigators said.

Johnson-Millender, who did not testify at the trial, told authorities she couldn't cope with her son and began feeding him milk and water, instead of solid food, Dec. 31 because she was tired of cleaning up his vomit.

Public defender Tammi R. Johnson said Johnson-Millender had been abandoned as a child and was abused in foster and adoption homes. That left her with lasting psychological and emotional wounds, Johnson said.

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