Northern Baltimore — Brittley Brown, mother to 18-month-old victim Jayden Johnson, was sentenced to 40 years in prison — suspend all but 25 years — after pleading to a single count of child abuse resulting in death. Special Victims Unit (SVU) Chief Anne Colt Leitess and Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Marsh prosecuted the case.
On August 30, 2016 at 6:00 a.m., police and paramedics responded to the 2600 block of Shirley Avenue, where they found 18-month-old Jayden Johnson not breathing and pulseless. The victim was located in a bedroom of the residence with his mother, Brittley Brown, and her boyfriend, co-defendant Brian Johns.
Jayden’s father had contacted Department of Social Services (DSS) to assist him in finding his son, as he feared for his son’s well-being.
The room where Jayden was found was very warm with little air circulation. Once at Sinai hospital, doctors and nurses attempted to revive Jayden. His core temperature was measured at 102 degrees; his eyes were noted as sunken; his bones were protruding; and, he was covered in bruises.
At the scene, police discovered that there were several blankets that were bundled together and a “do-rag.” According to Brown, these items were used to wrap and tie up the victim overnight in the room.
An autopsy was performed on the victim and it was determined that he had died from a combination of malnutrition, dehydration, and blunt force trauma to his head which caused bleeding on his brain. The Office of the Medical Examiner also concluded that Jayden being wrapped overnight in blankets and restrained in a hot room may have also contributed to his death in his weakened state. The medical examiner ruled Jayden Johnson’s death a homicide.
Co-Defendant Brian Johns admitted that he wrapped the child up on a hot summer night in a hot room with multiple blankets and restrained him, rendering him immobile and unable to escape. He also told investigators that Brown would routinely beat Jayden and failed to feed him properly — sometimes only one time per day.
Brown admitted that Johns would strike Jayden when he misbehaved and had bound the child’s arms with some kind of tie one evening, but she did not stop Johns from inflicting injuries on her child.
“The most troubling thing to me is that a neighbor heard Jayden being abused the night before he died and didn’t call for help and an anonymous call to 911 could have saved his life,” said SVU Chief Anne Colt Lietess. “I urge anyone who suspects a child is being abused to speak up because you could be helping a child who cannot help themselves.”
Johns is set to be sentenced on August 21, 2018 and faces the same penalty of 40 years, suspend all but 25 years, for his plea to a single count of child abuse resulting in death.
“My prayers are with Jayden’s father, who had the presence of mind to contact DSS because he believed his son was in danger,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “While nothing can bring back his beloved son, I hope that these sentences bring him some small sense of peace that justice was served after this horrific tragedy.”