By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He was the most helpless of victims. A 3-year-old toddler was last held by his father and dropped off the Francis Key Bridge. Now Stephen Nelson has pleaded guilty to his son’s death.

Alex DeMetrick reports under the terms of the plea agreement, Nelson’s guilty plea could bring a maximum punishment of 50 years in prison.

When Stephen Nelson drove onto the Key Bridge in February 2008, he had no intention of crossing. Instead he stopped high above the Patapsco River and dropped his son, Turner Nelson, over the railing.

The wait that started two years ago ended at the courthouse in Baltimore, with a plea agreement.

Nelson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse leading to death. He could face 50 years in prison.

“I’m satisfied with the way things went today. I’m not going to make any further statements until sentencing. Now me and my family have a little bit of closure,” said Natisha Johnson, victim’s mother.

Nelson’s lawyers say their client wanted to spare others a trial.

“Yes, he did. He wanted to close this out for everybody’s sake,” said Robert Linthicum, Nelson’s lawyer.

Evidence showed a contentious relationship between Nelson and Natisha Johnson, culminating with phone calls the night of the murder.

Nelson told her, “Me and Turner aren’t coming home. We’re going to die tonight.” And later, “I went to the Key Bridge, took him out of his car seat and threw him off the bridge.” Then finally, “I killed my son. I deserve to burn in hell.”

“It was difficult, having to relive it, but it’s something I know I have to do. I’m past it now and have to move forward,” said Johnson.

Nelson had originally been confined under the equivalent of an insanity plea.  Successful treatment returned him to court.

Formal sentencing for Nelson has been set for Jan. 28.


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