Sentenced: Md. Man Tossed Toddler Son Off Key Bridge

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.


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