Marching Illini trumpeter charged with murder

A University of Illinois agricultural communications student from Peotone High School has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of her newborn son, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette reports.

Marching Illini, in Dublin, Ireland, for the 2014 St Patrick’s Day Parade (William Murphy / Flickr Creative Commons)

Lindsay L Johnson, 20, of Monee, south of Chicago, played trumpet in the Marching Illini and was criminally charged on April 11 with first-degree murder, child endangerment, and concealment of a homicidal death. Her son, Robert Johnson, was born and died on March 13.

Ms Johnson’s boyfriend also played in the Marching Illini, the Chicago Tribune reported. “It’s just very hard to recognize that this happened to a person you’ve known,” the paper quoted another of her friends, who asked not to be identified, as saying about her.

On the day of the newborn’s death, university police were called to Bousfield Hall on First Street in Champaign to check on Ms Johnson’s welfare, because fellow students said they had heard what sounded like a baby crying in the bathroom. At the time, she told police she was suffering from stomach problems and didn’t need any police assistance.

A few hours later, police were called back to the hall, following reports that there was more to the story. A search for Ms Johnson found her near the Music Building in Urbana, on the other end of campus, the dead baby in her backpack, the state’s attorney said.

Thomas Bruno, a Champaign lawyer representing Ms Johnson, said his client was a promising student with a bright future. She remains enrolled at the university but reportedly had come home after a court appearance this week. “This is a tragic case and a complicated case,” the Tribune quoted him as saying. “There is much we still need to investigate and we intend to vigorously do so, to try to achieve justice on her behalf.”

If convicted, Ms Johnson faces 20 to 60 years for the murder, two to five years for concealing a homicidal death, and two to 10 years for child endangerment, which is a class 3 felony in Illinois.

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Paul Katula
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