UPDATE: Johnson Sentenced for First Degree Murder

By: Shannon Smith
By: Shannon Smith
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UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The man convicted of beating his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter to death in 2011 will spend the next 60 years behind bars.

You may remember Duran Johnson was convicted of First Degree Murder of Melanie Grant’s 3-year-old daughter.

Johnson apologized, saying he misses 3-year-old Kaitlyn Head. Judge Gary Pumilia sentenced Johnson to 62 years in prison. Judge Pumilia called his actions brutal, claiming he helped his girlfriend Melanie beat her kids and could have stopped the abuse. Johnson must also register as a violent offender against children.

The child’s mother, Melanie Grant, took a plea deal and testified against Johnson. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison last month.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Some possible closure for the family of a 3-year-old girl who was starved, neglected, and beaten to death in 2011. Duran Johnson could spend life in jail for those crimes. He was found guilty this morning after a very graphic and emotional trial.

Judge Gary Pumilia says Johnson and the girls’ mother, Melanie Grant acted as a team in punishing 3-year-old Kaitlyn Head.

Johnson didn’t show much emotion after hearing the verdict. Judge Pumila says Johnson hid Kaitlyn’s death by not calling 9-1-1 claiming the victim’s bruises were clearly noticeable considering she was hit so hard her muscles were damaged. Doctors say the child could’ve been saved if she had been taken to the hospital after the beating. Pumilia says both Grant and Johnson brutally punished Kaitlyn and her siblings as a team, saying therefore the couple is responsible for the 3-year-old’s death.

“It’s horrifying and I am so proud of her siblings and how strong they’ve been, to be able to tell the police and the court what happened in that house,” said Jennifer Clifford, Assistant State’s Attorney.
We spoke with the victim’s family and they say this has been hard for them, after seeing graphic pictures and hearing details. Relatives say they believe justice has been served.

We also spoke with the public defender. He says he’s disappointed in the decision and he’s planning to appeal. Johnson faces up to 100 years in jail. His sentencing is scheduled for December 11th.


UPDATE: Duran Johnson has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in 2011.

Johnson was found not guilty of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum of 100 years in prison. Johnson's sentencing is scheduled for December 11.


UPDATE: ROCKFORD (WIFR) – There are disturbing new details in Day 2 of the murder trial against Duran Johnson. He’s accused of beating his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter to death. Doctors say the little girl was starved, abused, and neglected before she died.

Today doctors say 3-year-old Kaitlyn Head died from Child Abuse Syndrome, claiming she was both physically hit and neglected by not getting enough food up to her death.

Experts say nearly half of Kaitlyn’s body was bruised. Doctor Vincent Tranchida says those were marks she got hours before her death. Doctors say she was so badly beaten her muscles were also damaged. According to doctors her victim was not eating enough because her body was too thin for her age and height. The mother, Melanie Grant, and the victim’s sister both testified that Kaitlyn had a bed wetting problem. Experts say that could have been from stress from the abuse.

Melanie Grant’s younger cousin also testified saying she spent almost every other weekend at Grant’s home.

The cousin says she heard the defendant Duran Johnson hit Kaitlyn several times, just days before the victim died.

Johnson is also facing charges of aggravated assault with a weapon. He’s expected to be back in court tomorrow.


STATELINE (WIFR) – A disturbing testimony at a Stateline murder trial after children take the stand to describe the gruesome details of a three-year-old girl’s brutal death.

Duran Johnson is accused of killing his girlfriend’s child 2011.

Officers say 3-year-old Kaitlinn Head may have been dead for at least a day before her mother called 9-1-1. It’s been an emotional day for her older sister who testified she and her sisters were abused before Kaitlinn’s death.

The now 13-year-old sister described several punishments she received and says several phone books were tied to she and her sister’s backs while they were held in a plank position on the floor. We also heard from Rockford Police officer Jeffery Oberts who responded to the 9-1-1 call.

He says the 3-year-old’s body was cold when he tried to find a pulse. Oberts recalls that Johnson seemed calm when police came in and found the girl unresponsive.

The mother, Melanie Grant, took a plea deal August. She said these punishments didn’t start until Johnson started living with her family. Defendant Duran Johnson will be back in court tomorrow.

He is charged with first-degree murder and if convicted, he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.


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