A South Side man charged in the fatal beating of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter admitted he bit and "smacked" the toddler as he babysat her over the weekend, prosecutors said today.
Devell M. Johnson, 23, of the 5500 block of South Emerald Avenue, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Armaney Cotton Saturday afternoon, according to Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.
He was ordered held without bail by Circuit Court Judge Israel Desierto.
Armaney was found unresponsive at about 4:15 p.m. at Johnson's home in the Englewood neighborhood, her body covered with bruises and what appeared to be human bite marks, officials said.
Prosecutors said Johnson admitted to police that he "smacked" the girl on her butt and back. He also admitted biting the girl, but officials did not say why.
An autopsy found bruising on the girl's face and head and a bite mark on the girl's lower back, according to prosecutors. It also found that the girl suffered extensive internal bleeding, multiple lacerations to her liver, bleeding to her right kidney and a subdural hematoma, prosecutors said.
"The victim's death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty," Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Nyshana K. Sumner said during a bond hearing.
Johnson had picked up the girl and her mother from their home and took the girl to his house while the mother went to work as a housekeeper in a downtown hotel. Johnson was watching the girl in the basement of the home Johnson shares with his family, prosecutors said.
Sometime in the afternoon Johnson went upstairs and told his brother and nephew that the child had hit her head, prosecutors said. At about 4 p.m., Johnson returned upstairs with the girl, who was unresponsive, prosecutors said.
Johnson called his mother and step-father and informed his step-father that the child was unresponsive. The man told Johnson to wait upstairs while the step-father called for an ambulance.
When Chicago Fire Department paramedics arrived at 4:15 p.m. they discovered the girl did not have a pulse, was not breathing and was already cold to the touch, prosecutors said. She was taken to St. Bernard Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:42.
If convicted of the charges, Johnson could face a life sentence.
Johnson has a pending case in Skokie for felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge. He had been free on $25,000 bail in connection with the Sept. 17, 2011 arrest, his first arrest on serious charges, according to court records.
Last year, police arrested Johnson at about 2:30 a.m. on the sidewalk in the 1000 block of West Addison Street and charged him with possession of a handgun, a misdemeanor, according to police and court records.
After he made bail in that case, Johnson was arrested on Oct. 11 in an alley in the 4700 block of North Sheridan Road, according to court records.
Johnson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully possessing a blackjack, served two days in jail and paid a $250 fine, according to police and court records. He was scheduled to appear in court in connection with the gun charge on May 19.
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