College student charged with killing newborn son to plead guilty

By Dave Andrusko

Lindsay Johnson is charged with suffocating her newborn son to death in April, 2016.

Lindsay Johnson [RICK DANZL/THE NEWS-GAZETTE VIA AP]

Twenty-year-old Lindsay Johnson has cut a deal with prosecutors after agreeing to plead guilty to an as-yet unspecified charge in connection with the death by suffocation of her newborn son.

Johnson, a former University of Illinois student, was originally charged “with first-degree murder, child endangerment and concealment of a homicidal death in April after allegedly suffocating her infant son shortly after giving birth in the bathroom of her dorm suite at Bousfield Hall in Champaign on March 13, 2016,” according to Zak Koeske of the Daily Southtown.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Johnson faced a sentence of between 20 and 60 years.

She will plead guilty on April 7 but her lawyers would not say to what she would plead guilty to “only that it would resolve the criminal charges filed against her.”

According to Koeske, students at her dorm called police to check on a student reported to be in a bathroom for several hours. When police arrived, prosecutors allege, Johnson hide her baby under her bed.

“Johnson then allegedly put the baby in a backpack and left Bousfield Hall on South First Street in Champaign, walking around campus,” the Chicago Tribune reported. ‘She was located by police in Campustown about 8 p.m. and admitted that she had given birth about 1:30 p.m.”

A state’s attorney’s office news release said Johnson initially told police her baby was not breathing when he was born. However, “When told that a witness had reported hearing a baby crying, Johnson admitted the boy was alive when he was born and that she may have tried to quiet the crying child by putting a towel or hand over his mouth,” according to Koeske’s reporting. He added

“Forensic analysis of Johnson’s phone showed a history going back to September 2015 of searches made for information on pregnancy, pregnancy symptoms, miscarriage, home abortions, and how to manage physical signs of pregnancy after the loss of a baby, the state’s attorney’s office said.”

Since both the prosecutors and the defense team did not ask for extended time on Judge Tom Difanis’s schedule, this indicates “that they have likely reached an agreement on what her sentence should be,” according to Chicago Tribune reporter Mary Schenk. “Otherwise, they would have told the judge that it was an ‘open’ plea, meaning he would be asked to decide her sentence.”

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