Knoxville man found guilty in toddler beating death

Knoxville man found guilty in toddler beating death

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Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr. Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr.
Ajakibian McBayne with her mother (Ieft) Ajakibian McBayne with her mother (Ieft)

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A jury took less than two hours to find a Knoxville man guilty of beating and strangling to death his ex-girlfriend's toddler in 2008.

Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr. was found guilty of felony murder and aggravated child abuse.

Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder conviction.

He's scheduled to be sentenced on September 9 for the aggravated child abuse conviction.

Earlier in the day, Knox County Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan told the jury the victim, 18-month-old Joseph Manning, Jr., had multiple bruises on his head, brain, mouth, chest and back.

Manning died in July 2008 at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Manning's mother, Ajakibian McBayne, was said to be asleep in a room in Johnson's house when her son was injured so badly he later died.

McBayne said she and Johnson had only been dating for a few months when this happened.

Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan said some of the marks on the child's body were caused by a belt or cord. The bruises were in varying stages, indicating to her that the abuse happened over time.

Johnson chose not to testify in his own behalf.

McBayne said she was glad the jurors were able to return their verdict.

She was once charged with the felony murder of her son as well. However, the prosecution later dropped her charges based on forensic evidence and polygraph test results.

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