Expert: Sentence for DC man who admitted to killing child should be ‘much stiffer’

A D.C. man who is admitting to killing a 2-year-old child, among other charges, is set to stay locked up but could walk free in less than a decade under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Antonio Turner, 29, is admitting guilt in multiple counts involving a 2-year-old boy who died, another young child who was injured and a woman who was beaten.

Turner pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 2020 death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son in D.C. A medical examiner found rib fractures and injuries to the child’s heart and brain, and the cause of death was ruled to be multiple blunt force injuries.

Prosecutors say Turner also pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree cruelty to children for injuries suffered by another one of his girlfriend’s children, a 3-year-old. That child’s injuries included fractured ribs and a lacerated liver.

Additionally, Turner pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge for dragging a woman from her car after a traffic crash, punching her repeatedly and causing her to fall and lose consciousness. Turner was arrested on Nov. 29 and has been in custody ever since.

Under his deal with prosecutors, Turner would be sentenced to between seven and 13 years in prison for his crimes.

“This does look like somebody who ought to have gotten a much stiffer sentence,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor of law at George Washington University. “The idea that a judge might sentence him to only seven years, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“This is torturing a child to death,” Saltzburg added. “When I look at the description of this child’s injuries, I wonder whether voluntary manslaughter is the right charge. This child had so many injuries that you had a pretty decent case that Mr. Turner actually intended to kill this kid.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said they typically do not comment on pending cases and have no comment on this case.

Still, Saltzburg said getting testimony about who caused the injuries in these types of cases can be difficult. “The fly in the ointment always is, how are you going to prove that he did it all rather than the mother?” he said. “Getting [Turner] into prison quickly is probably something they put a priority on.”

The mother, Ta’Jeanna Eason, 32, has pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree cruelty to children. Prosecutors say she is to be sentenced to six years in prison with that time suspended on the condition that she have no future unsupervised contact with children, and that she participate in mental health and drug treatment.

A judge must still accept the guilty pleas of both Turner and Eason.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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