Joliet man convicted of murdering toddler

February 25

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a jury on Monday found a Joliet man guilty of first-degree murder for the beating death of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son.

Robert Johnson, 36, struck Trayvon Joseph multiple times about the body while the boy’s mother was out of her house running errands on March 18, 2002. The mother called 911 the following morning after discovering that her child was unresponsive and not breathing.

Trayvon was pronounced dead later that day at Silver Cross Hospital. An autopsy revealed that his bowel had been perforated and that his stomach artery had been torn during the beating. Trayvon also suffered a skull fracture and a collar bone fracture, and he had bruises over much of his body, including 14 circular bruises on his stomach that were consistent with closed-fist punches.

“Robert Johnson is a diabolical monster who brutally beat the life out of this innocent baby,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “This little boy had no choice but to rely on a vile beast to keep him safe while his mother was gone. Instead of protecting Trayvon, Johnson savagely attacked this defenseless child, striking him repeatedly with blows that proved deadly in the end.”

A nurse and a deputy coroner testified during the trial that they heard Johnson apologize to the dead boy at the hospital, saying: “I’m sorry I did it.” Prosecutors also presented as evidence during the five-day trial a letter Johnson sent to his girlfriend stating that he didn’t hit Trayvon that hard.

The jury deliberated for three hours before returning a guilty verdict. Johnson faces up to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled. However, a court date to deal with post-trial motions has been scheduled for March 28.

Glasgow praised Joliet Detective Sgt. Bruce Larson and Detective Rich Klepfer for their thorough investigation, and his prosecutors, Assistant State’s Attorneys Tina Brault, Dede Osterberger and Jessica Colon-Sayre, for their skillful trial work.

“These fine detectives and prosecutors have placed a cruel bully behind bars for what will essentially be the rest of his life,” Glasgow said.