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Mom gets 24 years in toddler murder

Posted on: October 10, 2009

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Mom gets 24 years in toddler murder

Prosecutor wanted life term in prison.

By Brennan David

Published October 5, 2009 at 5:21 p.m.
Updated October 6, 2009 at 1:44 p.m.

A Columbia woman was sentenced to 24 years in prison yesterday for her role in the murder of her 2-year-old son.

Lumpkin

Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton sentenced Keyonda Lumpkin, 28, after hearing testimony from family members.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Knight had sought a life sentence for Lumpkin, who was found guilty Sept. 3 of second-degree murder in the death of her son, Cortez Johnson.

Her son’s body was found to have severe burns on the buttocks and penis as well as deep bruises that indicated blows suffered as long as six months before his death. Cortez died from three brain hemorrhages on the sides and front of the head, according to medical testimony.

Some relatives of Lumpkin left the court crying hysterically after the judgment.

“I think 24 years is a strong sentence,” Knight said outside the courtroom. “She is going to go to prison for a long time.”

With a 24-year sentence, Knight said, Lumpkin won’t be eligible for parole until after serving 20 years. If she had been given a life sentence, she would not have been eligible for parole until after serving 25 years. Cortez’s father, Horace Johnson, is set for trial on similar charges Dec. 1.

In the sentencing hearing yesterday, Public Defender Kevin O’Brien called upon three family members to testify about Lumpkin’s relationship with her son and the difficulties the family has endured since his death.

“Keyonda loved her son,” Sheila Lumpkins said of her daughter. Sheila Lumpkins and other relatives spell their last name different from Keyonda Lumpkin. “He was with her all the time unless she was in the hospital.”

Lumpkins said she was in the process of gaining guardianship of her daughter’s two remaining children. Both were staying with their grandmother at the time of the toddler’s death in June 2008.

“It’s tremendous hurt and pain,” she said of losing her grandson and of her daughter’s trial last month. “It’s hard to deal with it from day to day. I can’t explain the pain. Only God knows.”

Lumpkin’s aunt, Chenette Hill, once shared an apartment with Lumpkin and assisted with taking care of Cortez when Lumpkin was on medication for sickle cell anemia, a disease she has suffered from since childhood.

Hill asked Hamilton for mercy during the hearing. “It hurts to hear her children ask when Mom is coming home,” she said. “Only answer we have is that she is coming home soon.”

Knight later reminded the judge that Lumpkin had shown “no mercy to little Cortez,” and for that she deserved a life sentence.

Reach Brennan David at 573-815-1718 or e-mail bpdavid@columbiatribune.com.

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