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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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."