BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP)–The crime shocked Maryland. A man tosses his own toddler son to his death off the Key Bridge. On Friday, Stephen Nelson learned his fate.

 Weijia Jiang has more on the sentence and some emotional reaction to it.

This certainly was a long day in court–very intense, very emotional, leading up to the moment Stephen Nelson learned he would spend the next 50 years behind bars for killing his toddler.

“I have justice for my son,” said Natisha Johnson, victim’s mother. “I have justice for my family. We finally have closure. My son can now rest in peace.”

Natisha Johnson says she has been waiting for this day for nearly three years. That’s how long it’s been since her baby boy, 3-year-old Turner Nelson, lost his life in the most unthinkable way.

Stephen Nelson, 40, threw his son off the Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Patapsco River in February 2008. Prosecutors said the man had been arguing with the boy’s mother over a transfer of custody, and after killing his son, he tried to commit suicide by drinking cleaning chemicals. The boy’s body was found five months later.

“I cannot imagine what my son could have seen, what he did see, if he saw anything at all, if he was asleep. Those are questions I have always had, of whether or not he was awake during this. And to know that he drowned is even more devastating,” Johnson said.

In court, Nelson cried heavily, as family members spoke on his behalf, begging the judge for mercy. A Johns Hopkins neuroscientist testified that Nelson was depressed and often hallucinated during the time of the murder.

“Mr. Nelson never tried to minimize the effect that this is having on his family, Turner’s mother and her family. It’s a tragic event, and he really wishes he could take back all of this,” said his attorney Angela Shelton.

The 50-year sentence is the maximum punishment the judge could have given Nelson based on a plea agreement he entered back in November. Nelson was given a chance to speak Friday in court, but he did not.

Nelson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He will be referred to the Patuxent Institution within the state
corrections department for possible mental health treatment and will be eligible for parole.

Comments (22)
  1. hapgirl says:

    Somebody should have tossed him off the bridge. Would have saved us all a lot of money

    1. Hootie says:

      I totally agree.

    2. Michelle Pirkey Rose says:

      he should have gooten what he gave the poor little boy

  2. Patricia says:

    God, gives the final will give the final judgement. Mr Nelson, will receive just what he deserves.

    1. worried says:

      Not with this judicial system.. would say that if it was your child?

      1. Hootie says:

        In this case?? An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth…

    2. Victoria Gottleib Hoover says:

      Amen for that one! Patricia

  3. WHAT says:

    How I just want to know how anyone can killl anyone much less a child and even moreso their own child? I guess I will never understand. Yes, hapgirl it should be eye for eye. Afterall this man could not think it was too bad or he would not have done it to his own kid.

  4. Fast says:

    It surprises me that Maryland judges don’t understand what Patuxent Institute is about when it is recommended at sentencing. It’s not for the run-of-the-mill criminal. They treat ‘defective delinquents’ and ‘violent recidivists’. It costs taxpayers a lot of money for specialists there, but why should money be spent on criminals who will not ever hit the streets again. A more suitable placement for Mr. Nelson would be Perkins Hospital but as noted elsewhere, he should suffer the same fate as the child he threw off the Key Bridge, except his arms and legs should be tied.

  5. John says:

    To Mr. Nelson, you are SPINELESS and HEARTLES BABY KILLER!!

    Sweet dream Mr. Nelson, especially in prison.

    1. deepseema says:

      lucialuiw on August 30, 2011 i like my lnpsoearity, because i am a really happy person and i love to smile and make other people smile with me , kisses from Perfa love youu

  6. Shannie says:

    He should be tossed over a bridge for what he did. He should not have the possibility for parole he should die in prison for what he did. He is giong to burn in hell for killing his own child. My prayers are with the childs mother my God keep her strong.

  7. Doug says:

    50years behind bars is very expensive for us tax payers.
    Why can’t you have him tossed off the bridge,tonight ?

  8. kevin says:

    This is whats wrong with todays judicial system ! This man took his own son’s life , but yet only gets 50yrs with the chance for parole ! He should have atleast got life without the chance for parole and thats being nice! I hope the other prisoners find out what he did and take actions into there own hands! Since the goverment don’t allow true punishment to people that commit these kind of crimes against there own kids!

  9. kevin says:

    But they say everyone has equal rights in the court system! what plea agreement could possibly be worth giving a lesser sentence to a child killer ? Did the judge or states attorney think about the childs rights to live? Thats why I could never be a defense attorney or a states attorney ! But like i said in my last comment thats what is wrong with todays judicial system!

    1. Melani says:

      OK, so I don’t have a great story, but I want those tkecits! My fiancee and I have been together for about 9 years, and finally got sick of the So when are you getting married barrage from family & friends. So we talked about it, decided it’s about freaking time, and went ring shopping. Suddenly, girls I barely know are squealing and giving me uncomfortably long hugs, and I’m a little tired of the whole wedding idea already. Then I stumbled on the Indie I Do show, and fell in LOVE with the idea! I’m going whether I get the free tkecits or not (although free tkecits would be nice), in the hopes that I find some original ideas that might make eloping seem less appealing.

  10. Bez says:

    Bring back the death penalty. This is 50 years of wasted money the taxpayers are footing to keep this nut locked up till he’s dead. What a waste.

  11. madison says:

    God took this sweet little boys spirit before he ever felt an ounce of pain, I want to send my symapthy to the family! Youll always have a sweet angel by your-side! As for Nelson, you will suffer everyday, knowing you took a life that was so special to many, it wasnt your life to take, you do not have that right! So over your 50 years i hope you see his face everytime you close your eyes! Turner will always be specail and you will always be locked up!

  12. Bukaino says:

    IronReviewer on October 20, 2011 21 because it has a mix of audrntvee, skill, entertainment, and romance. Great movie that could be a great game!

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