Woman pleads guilty to attempting to smother toddler son

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, March 25, 2021

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Child hospitalized with seizures


A woman who prevented her son from breathing to get him to stop crying had a plea hearing on Thursday in Mower County District Court.

Makenzie Lee Johnson, 32

Makenzie Lee Johnson, 32, of Reads Landing, formerly of Austin, has pleaded guilty to felony first-degree assault – great bodily harm – as part of a plea agreement. 

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A second charge of felony first-degree assault – great bodily harm – and two counts of felony second-degree attempted murder – with intent – not premeditated – will be dismissed at the sentencing as part of the agreement.

Court documents state that police responded to a call of a 16-month-old male not breathing at about 6:06 p.m. on July 10, 2019, at a residence in the 2100 block of Third Avenue Southeast. They made contact with the victim’s mother, Johnson, and provided the victim with oxygen until an ambulance arrived. The victim was transported to Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin and then to Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Marys Campus-Rochester and was released to his parents the next day.

On July 15, 2019, law enforcement and social workers were notified that the victim was in pediatric intensive care at St. Marys Hospital for seizures and that the victim had been readmitted to the hospital on July 13 after he stopped breathing again. A hospital social worker reported that Johnson told one of the victim’s nurses the victim had been crying, so she covered his mouth and nose with her hand until he stopped breathing.

A detective and child protection worker met with Johnson at St. Marys Hospital. Johnson said she had been at home alone with the victim and another child on July 10. The victim was screaming, so she put her hand over his mouth to get him to stop. She demonstrated that she put her hand over the victim’s nose and mouth and squeezed. When he stopped breathing, she called 911. She said the police and paramedics arrived and that the victim had a pulse, but was not breathing.

Johnson said the victim was crying again on July 13 and she again put her hand over his nose and mouth to get him to stop, causing the victim to go “limp” and start having seizures, after which he was taken to the hospital. She said she put her hand over his nose and mouth “a few times to calm him down.” She said she told herself to “stop doing it” because she did not want to hurt the victim, but did it anyway, despite knowing she was hurting him.

Johnson will be sentenced on May 21. Under her current interim conditions, she is not allowed contact with the victim or any person under 18.