… Judge said he couldn’t ignore severity of crime, vulnerability of young victim …
By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun
8:36 PM EST, January 28, 2011
A West Baltimore man was sentenced to 50 years in prison by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge Friday, nearly three years after he threw his 3-year-old son, Turner Jordan Nelson, off the Key Bridge.
Stephen Todd Nelson, 40, received the maximum sentence available after agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse resulting in death.
“I just cannot look away from the severity of this crime and the vulnerability of a 3-year-old child,” Judge Charles J. Peters said. The defendant will be referred to the Patuxent Institution within the state corrections department for possible mental health treatment and will be eligible for parole.
Nelson cried along with family members who asked for mercy at Friday’s hearing, describing him as a role model who had provided for them and for his older son. Relatives declined to comment afterward.
The defendant attempted to commit suicide by drinking cleaning products upon returning home that night. After he recovered, Nelson told police that demons made him throw Turner off the bridge on Super Bowl Sunday in 2008. A clinical psychologist called as a defense witness testified that Nelson had depression and had hallucinations as a result of alcohol withdrawal.
But Julie Drake, the state’s attorney’s office’s felony family violence division chief, described the crime as a vengeful act intended to cause pain to Turner’s mother, Natisha Johnson, with whom Turner had disputes over visitation and child support. Drake said Nelson had not spoken of seeing demons before this incident.
“I’m really grateful the judge saw through all this nonsense,” Drake said. As part of their agreement, Nelson’s attorneys agreed to withdraw a plea of not criminally responsible.
Johnson said after the hearing that she felt vindicated . “My son can now rest in peace,” she said.
Nelson’s attorney, Angela Shelton, called the case “trying all around.”
“I hope the sentence can help them somehow,” she said. “It’s not going to bring Turner back.”
Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun
… Goodbye, Mr. Nelson …