A baby boy who had been dead at least a day before arriving at a Grand Rapids hospital “had no reason to die,’’ a medical examiner testified Wednesday at a felony murder hearing for the child's mother.
“This was a child who had no reason to die,’’ Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle testified. “That is, no infection, no injury, no congenital malformations. There was no reason this child wouldn’t have thrived had he been given normal and ordinary care.’’
Instead, six-month-old Noah Johnson went without food and water and suffered from diaper rash so severe, areas of his skin had fallen away, Cohle testified.
The child’s mother, 22-year-old Lovily Johnson, is charged with first-degree child abuse and felony murder.
Cohle, who performed the July 20th autopsy, said he believes Noah Johnson died from neglect.
“He wasn’t fed, wasn’t given water,'' Cohle testified. "Obviously, a young infant can’t go very long without those things.’’
After hearing testimony from four witnesses, Wyoming District Court Judge Pablo Cortes determined there was enough evidence to move the case to Kent County Circuit Court.
Johnson arrived at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, July 19 with her son, according to police.
She told police the child had been under her care and was buckled in a car seat on the upper floor of Johnson’s apartment house on McKee Avenue SW with no air conditioning.
Johnson called a man she considered to be a father figure to take her and Noah to the hospital, explaining she thought it would be quicker than an ambulance, according to testimony.
In an interview with Wyoming Police Detective Robert Meredith, Johnson said she had a sense something was wrong with her son.
“She said she was worried because she knew she hadn’t fed him, she knew she hadn’t changed him, she knew it was hot up there and she knew that she hadn’t checked on him in a while,’’ Meredith testified.
Johnson, who was on probation for embezzling from a business on 28th Street SE, also has a two-year-old daughter. The daughter was placed under the supervision of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
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