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Tampa man who smashed infant's skull into 'puzzle pieces' sentenced to 25 years in prison

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A man who was convicted of fracturing a Tampa baby’s skull, leaving her with permanent disabilities was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday.

Prosecutors said Demarcus Johnson forcefully shook his girlfriend’s infant daughter while her mother was away at work.

The incident occurred in July 2018 at the girl’s home on East 122nd Avenue near University Mall in Tampa.

A child abuse expert said the girl suffered a “high-force” blow to her head and “instantaneously lost the ability to move, eat, or even cry.”

When the child’s mother returned from work and found the girl unresponsive, Johnson did not tell her how the injury occurred and insisted nothing unusual happened, authorities said.

The girl was airlifted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Doctors said she had multiple skull fractures and internal bleeding. Her skull was broken into fragments like “puzzle pieces,” Dr. Sally Smith, the medical director for Pinellas County’s Child Protection Team said during testimony.

“I’m basically my daughter’s voice—standing up for her because she can’t do it. Justice has been served and now we can be at peace,” Ty’Ahni’s mother Tyreonna Williams said. “Finally. Finally. It’s been a long road.”

Ty’Ahni’s eight-year-old brother Tyrin Cherry, Jr. squeezed his sister’s hand and comforted her as their mother spoke. Doctors have told Ty’Ahni’s mother that her daughter, who is now four years old, will never recover from the injuries Johnson inflicted on her.

“She’s going to be confined to a wheelchair. She’s not going be able to walk, talk, or eat on her own, basically. Seizures. She’s basically confined to the chair,” said Tyreonna, who is now studying to be a medical assistant. She said she chose this career so she can better care for her daughter and others who need help.

“The most important thing we do is protecting the most vulnerable people in our community. And who is more vulnerable than a three-month-old child?” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said. “It was heartbreaking to see the damage that this defendant inflicted upon little Ty’Ahni. But at the end of the day, we’re able to secure a conviction, get a stiff sentence, and bring that little bit of closure back to Ty’Ahni and her family.”

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