GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The trial of a Wyoming mother accused of neglecting her baby son last summer, leading to his death, began Tuesday.
Lovily Johnson, 23, is charged with murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of her 6-month-old son Noah.
After a jury of nine women and five men was seated in Kent County Circuit Court, Johnson's defense attorney Jonathan Schildgen asked that some photos of Noah taken after his death be excluded from trial, saying they could unfairly prejudice jurors. The judge denied the request.
In opening statements, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told jurors that Johnson fed Noah only once in the three days leading up to his death, then left him in his car seat in her sweltering apartment while she went out with friends, eating, smoking marijuana and relaxing in air conditioning elsewhere.
"What really killed this baby boy was his mother," Becker said. "This woman left her 6-month-old son — didn't feed him, didn't change his diaper, didn't change his clothes, did absolutely nothing. And when I say 'absolutely nothing,' I mean this woman didn't set eyes on her son for 32 hours."
Schildgen argued there is no proof of precisely how Noah died, suggesting he may have died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or some other cause.
"It’s not going to be quite as dramatic and aggressive and maybe angry as the prosecutor wants it to seem. It’s tragic. It’s sad, is what it is," Schildgen told the jury.
He presented Johnson as a single mother living in housing for victims of domestic abuse.
The first witness to take the stand was a doctor at the emergency room where Johnson took Noah on July 19, 2017. Authorities say Noah had already been dead for a day by then.