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Published: Friday, April 06, 2018 @ 12:51 PM
Updated: Friday, April 06, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
— Ryan “Luke” St. John was found guilty of murder Friday in the death of 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson.
He also was found guilty as charged on all other counts, including felonious assault, involuntary manslaughter and endangering children.
The jury began deliberations just before 3 p.m. Friday and returned to the courtroom with a verdict around 6:30 p.m.
St. John, 23, was on trial for the February 2017 death of Brayden, the son of St. John’s girlfriend, Kelsie Martin. The county coroner’s office ruled Brayden died from blunt force injuries which was shown to be a massive skull fracture.
Closing arguments finished before noon Friday.
“Child abuse is a crime committed in secret. It’s not meant to have witnesses,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kelly Madzey told the jury. “You have heard Brayden’s voice in this case. Find this defendant guilty …”
Defense attorney William Cass Jr. pointed the finger at Martin, but stressed he didn’t have to prove her guilt but that prosecutors did have to — and failed — to prove that his client was guilty.
Cass told the jury that there’s “one element in dispute and that’s who did this” and that the dispute “has not been resolved.” Cass also said there were “too many unanswered questions.”
Madzey said the defense’s final witness, Dr. Geoffrey Negin, a neuroradiology specialist from Fort Meyers, Fla., didn’t change the timeline that doctors said likely happened within eight hours of a 1:47 p.m. CT scan.
St. John elected not take the stand in his own defense.
Madzey showed the jury a timeline that she said puts St. John alone with Brayden when the massive injuries must have happened.
In his rebuttal close, assistant prosecutor Dan Brandt said jurors shouldn’t get detoured by things like what he said was a stretch for Cass to infer Martin was faking her emotions during the 911 call.
Brandt said Martin was the one who made the call, rode in the ambulance, talked to doctors and was interviewed by detectives.
“Where’s he? Where’s this defendant when she is doing all of this?” Brandt asked, adding that St. John was “ducking and dodging police officers.”
Brandt said evidence showed why there was no DNA found in a hole in the wall in the Southshore Drive apartment.
Brandt recounted how a fellow inmate gave police details about what St. John told him about the incident and that St. John later regretted telling anyone anything in a phone call from jail. Brandt said the inmate heard how St. John talked about the death of a 2-year-old child without emotion and that it was “off-putting.”
At that point, St. John interrupted Brandt to say he told the inmate “what he was accused of.” After that, a few people in the gallery had words and were asked to leave by deputies.
Brandt finished by saying Brayden no longer had a voice, but that he was still telling his story. “Please listen,” Brandt said, asking the jury to find St. John guilty of all charges.
St. John is scheduled for sentencing May 1.