Mother sentenced to 24 years for second-degree murder of son

Monday, October 5, 2009 | 8:30 p.m. CDT; updated 8:35 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — Keyonda Lumpkins stood still and stared straight ahead at Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton as he sentenced her to 24 years in prison on Monday for the second-degree murder of her 2-year-old son.

Before Hamilton was finished reading the disposition, Lumpkins’ sister, Roishonda Lovelady, ran from the gallery and her cries echoed through the hallway and into the courtroom.

Her mother, Sheila Lumpkin, buried her face in her hands and wiped the tears from her eyes. Sheila Lumpkin's name is spelled differently than her daughter because Lumpkins had an “s” added to the name on her birth certificate.

Lumpkins, 27, was found guilty in the death of her child, Cortez Johnson, after a three-day jury trial in September. The father, Horace Johnson, 27, is also being charged with second-degree murder, and his trial is set for December.

When Cortez was brought to University Hospital on June 25, 2008, his body was covered with more than 200 injuries consisting of burns, cuts and strikes to his head, which caused bleeding in his skull and led to his death, according to MU neuropathologist Douglas Miller.

During his argument at the sentencing hearing, Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight said Cortez endured a life of pain and suffering because of the defendant.

“She showed no mercy to little Cortez," Knight said, "And for that she deserves a life sentence.”

Defense attorney Kevin O’Brien agreed that Lumpkins failed her son.

“She can’t undo what she had done,” he said.

O’Brien said that the things that happened in the last days of Cortez’s life were not representative of the child's entire life. Family members testified on Lumpkins’ behalf.

Knight said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“I believe Cortez has gotten justice up to this point,” he said.

Lumpkins will serve 24 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 20 years. If she had received Knight’s recommendation of a life sentence, she would not have been eligible for parole until 25 or more years in prison.

The conviction may be appealed within the next 90 days, Hamilton said. According to Knight, this is common in most criminal cases. O’Brien was not available for comment.

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