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Man Gets Life in Abused Toddler’s Death

Zoie Johnston, 14 months, was legally drunk by Michigan’s standards when she was rushed to an emergency room with head injuries.

Toren Hains, 22, was sentenced to life without parole Monday in the death of a 14-month-old toddler in his care when she died of head injuries on New Year's Eve 2012. (Photo: Kalamazoo police)
Toren Hains, 22, was sentenced to life without parole Monday in the death of a 14-month-old toddler in his care when she died of head injuries on New Year's Eve 2012. (Photo: Kalamazoo police)

The grandmother of a toddler who had a blood alcohol content of .087 and marijuana in her system when she died said in a Michigan courtroom Monday that she’s haunted by visions of the “evil” and “inhumane” abuse the child suffered at the hands of convicted murderer Toren Hains.

Shande Hughes-Johnston’s tearful victim-impact statement in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court brought an emotional end to the case against Hains, the boyfriend of 14-month-old Zoie Johnston’s mother, MLive/The Kalamazoo Gazette reports. Hains, 22, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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Hains was convicted of felony murder and first-degree child abuse in May.

Little Zoie was in Hains’ care at the Oshtemo Township apartment he shared with the toddler’s mother, Bailea Johnston, on Dec. 30, 2012, when she suffered blunt force trauma to the head. She was pronounced dead on New Year’s Eve.

In a probable cause hearing last fall to obtain an arrest warrant for Hains, Kalamazoo Police Detective William Sparrow compared the trauma to a “high-speed impact,” MLive/The Kalamazoo Gazette said in an earlier report. He said there was no way the injuries could have occurred from falling out of a person’s arms, as Hains had claimed.

Hains reportedly explained the alcohol in the toddler’s system by saying that she had drank his mixed drink. In Michigan, a motorist with a blood alcohol content of .08 is considered legally drunk.

In her statement Monday, Hughes-Johnston said she is haunted by nightmares in which her granddaughter reaches for her and asks for help.

“It is impossible to reconcile both how evil and how cowardly abusing and murdering a helpless and defenseless baby is," Hughes-Johnston said. "I still, even as I stand in this courtroom at the defendant's sentencing today, the trial over, cannot believe that this horrific, tortured and pained reality was actually my granddaughter's.

"But I know that it was."


none of your business June 03, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Let's hope Bubba gives this creep just what he deserves. Also hoping for many "head" injuries.
novastien June 03, 2014 at 02:47 PM
He will die a horrible death in prison!
wendy June 03, 2014 at 03:11 PM
@novastien -- not horrible enough
Joseph June 03, 2014 at 03:46 PM
Where's dad in this? If he's still around I'm sure he wants the first crack at this idiot.
Racer Boy June 04, 2014 at 09:19 AM
If the "Dad" cared...or the Mom cared, this idiot would not have been in charge that evening. There ought to a be law preventing fools like this from recreating...and voting.

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