Father admits; infant mourned

Published 4:39 am Monday, February 28, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
"I wish you would kill me the way I killed him."
Those were the words of Christopher Thomas Johnson, 33, of Atmore during his bond hearing at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton on Tuesday where he admitted to killing his six-month-old son.
Johnson was arrested late last Sunday afternoon after Atmore Community Hospital officials observed visible injuries on the body of Elias Ocean Johnson. The child was pronounced dead after intensive efforts to revive the him were unsuccessful.
"The injuries that were discovered definitely appeared that the child had been physically abused," Atmore Investigator Chuck Brooks said Monday morning. "At this time an autopsy is being performed on the child and the cause of death has not yet been determined."
Following an extensive crime scene investigation by the Atmore Police Department and the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, Johnson was arrested and charged with capital murder.
During his bond hearing before District Judge Dave Jordan, Johnson admitted to killing his son, but stated that it wasn't intentional. Though an autopsy hasn't been released, Johnson is believed to have beaten, bit and suffocated his son. Now Atmore Police continue to piece together the events leading up to the infant's murder, which is believed to have begun with a night of drinking.
"We'll definitely be looking at medical records trying to get a complete medical history of the child and of the father," Brooks said. "He also has an extensive criminal record."
Following a recommendation from District Attorney Steve Billy, Johnson remains in the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton after being denied bond.
Mourners filed into Trinity Episcopal Church in Atmore on Thursday to celebrate the short life of Elias and mourn the loss of one of its newest members.
Trinity Episcopal Church Rev. Sandra Mayer conducted the memorial service. Her sermon reflected back on when Elias's parents Dana and Christopher moved to Atmore and became a part of Trinity's church family. The sermon also mentioned the help offered to the family during their hardships.
"The service on Thursday was a celebration of Elias's life, short lived as it was," Mayer said via telephone. "We came there to mourn him, but also to commend him to God's care and we will continue to do that."
Friday afternoon, almost a week following Elias's premature death, Rev. Mayer said the Trinity family remains in shock.
"The whole event is very tragic and we're mourning as a faith community as well as the Atmore community as a whole," she said. "We have ministered to the family, both the mother and the father, and we will continue to minister to them. That's what the congregation of Trinity does. It lives out its Christian spirituality in amazing ways, regardless of the situation."
Despite the ongoing investigation into the murder and the statewide publicity, Rev. Mayer said the church family at Trinity as well as the Atmore community has been supportive of the family during their loss.
"We appreciate the overwhelming compassion shown to the family as well as to the Trinity family during this time," she said. "From personal experience I was not surprised at the response from the Atmore community and the families involved will always have a special place in their hearts for the folks of Atmore. Because we are a resurrection faith, we know that through the promises made through Jesus of eternal life, that we will see Elias again."
According to police reports, Christopher Johnson has been arrested numerous times on various charges including armed robbery in Pensacola, larceny in Florida, burglary, theft, public intoxication, criminal trespassing and numerous failure to appear charges.
Capital murder is a Class A felony and is punishable by death or life in prison without parole.

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