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El Paso jury finds mother guilty of shaking, injuring her 8-month-old son

By Matt Dougherty
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:13:37 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 07:07:58 PM CST

Trial of Annamarie Johnson begins

EL PASO, Texas -

Afternoon Nov. 21, 2013 Update: An El Paso jury found AnnaMarie Johnson guilty of injury to a child causing severe bodily injury.

Johnson, 24, was charged with shaking and beating her 8-month-old baby so badly that the boy went blind.

Previous Nov. 21, 2013 story: A jury is deliberating in the case of an El Paso mother on trial for allegedly shaking and beating her 8-month-old baby so badly, the boy went blind.

Annamarie Johnson, 24, is charged with injury to a child causing severe bodily injury.

Jake Johnson was taken to a hospital emergency room with a fractured skull, severe head trauma and retinol bleeding, in May of 2010.

Jake was outside of the courtroom on Wednesday. Courthouse employees report the boy smiled as he walked the halls of the 10th floor, wearing a three-piece suit and carrying a minature "white stick."

Assistant district attorney Penny Hamilton ordered jurors to find Johnson guilty during closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

"When you have a child who cannot tell us what happened, you have to be their voice," Hamilton said. "You be Jake's voice today. You bring him justice. You find her guilty."

Defense attorney Victor Parra told jurors prosecutors were playing on their emotions.

"They're going to work on your emotions, they're going to play on your sympathies," Parra said. "So you're going to think somebody has to pay."

On Monday jurors heard testimony from doctors and nurses who treated Jake at the hospital where Johnson brought the baby.  They told jurors Jake was nearly dead when he arrived and had to be put on a ventilator. 

Pediatrician Jorge Sainz, M.D., ruled Jake's injuries were inflicted by another individual and were the result of child abuse when he treated the baby at El Paso Children's Hospital three years ago.  The doctor said Johnson asked him if Jake's injuries could have been caused by vaccinations.

Parra told jurors his client did not commit the crime and that she has been truthful.  Johnson testified on Thursday morning that it was possible the four-year-old daughter of her boyfriend may have injured Jake.

Annamarie Johnson was married to Fort Bliss soldier Ronnie Johnson who was deployed in Iraq at the time of Jake's injury.  The soldier did not know his wife in El Paso was living with another man, having an affair, Annamarie Johnson admitted.  A hospital nurse told jurors the Red Cross had to inform the husband of his child's injuries because Annamarie Johnson did not.

"She has made some decisions that may seem unpopular," Parra said. "She made a decision to start dating someone when sshe was married. She admitted on the stand she cheated on her husband when she was married. She made a decision to travel when her baby was getting better."

Prosecutors told jurors Johnson would put Jake in a playpen she had set up in the closet.

"She doesn't even take the care to set up the play equipment in the playroom," Hamilton said. "Instead, she puts Jake in the closet. Does that tell you what kind of mother she is?"

Defense attorneys told jurors that detectives did not investigate any other explanations for Jake's injuries.

"Should you find her guilty, the message you will send is that a parent, who's been a good parent for a long time, has a child that has an unexplained injury," Parra said. "That parent will be facing many years in prison."

Johnson was asked by El Paso Police detectives during a taped interrogation what she would like to see happen to the person who hurt Jake.  Johnson said she would like to see that person get "help."

Jurors began deliberations at 12:50 p.m.

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