He beat a 14-month-old to death with a frozen water bottle. Fresno judge issues sentence

A Fresno man who used a frozen water bottle to strike and kill a 14-month-old child was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison on Thursday.

Kenneth Johnson, 37, agreed in early March to plead no contest to a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Jose Luis Espinosa III, who was killed on Nov. 20, 2016.

Judge Mark E. Cullers accepted the plea agreement, referring to Jose’s death as a “a very tragic case.”

The child’s mother, 34-year-old Lakeisha Colbert, told the judge she wanted to see Johnson spend more time in prison for killing her son.

“My son did not deserve to die. This makes no sense,” she said in court. “I can forgive him, but I can’t forget it.”

Fresno police said that on Nov. 20, 2016, Johnson, who is the boyfriend of the woman who was babysitting Jose and his then 7-year-old sister, was alone with the children when Jose began crying.

Johnson admitted to police that he punched the child in the stomach after he wouldn’t stop crying. Johnson also was accused of striking the child in the face with a frozen water bottle.

Detectives determined the child received critical liver and brain injuries and were consistent with blunt force trauma.

Johnson’s attorney Charles Barrett and Senior Deputy District Attorney Amy Cobb were satisfied with the outcome of the case.

“I can’t imagine anything harder to deal with than the death of a child,” Cobb said. “And to lose a child in a manner such as this, from abuse, only adds more pain and agony to what is already a difficult situation.”

After the hearing, Colbert said she is trying to put her life back together, but it has been hard.

“You try to get past this, but then you start to think about how someone can take a frozen water bottle and hit a child with it,” she said. “Who does that?”