Local mother's boyfriend charged in toddler's death

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

MARION, Ill. - A local mother's boyfriend of three months is charged in connection to the death of her 23-month-old son.

Kody Johnson, 25, made a first appearance in Williamson County Circuit Court on the murder charge on Thursday.

Johnson is not the baby's father. Prosecutors said he somehow shook or slung the child last Saturday while he was watching him, causing injuries that killed Skyler West-France.

Andrea West found 23-month-old Skyler West-France unresponsive that day. She took him to a Marion, Illinois hospital and he was later flown to a children's hospital in St. Louis. He died on Tuesday. Autopsy results are pending.

Holding her son's picture, Andrea West talks candidly about her boyfriend, Kody Johnson, the man investigators believe killed her child.

"I don't want to believe it, but I know it's true what happened. That kills me, that hurts really bad," she said," They told me he did confess. I cannot know the confession or how his death was yet. But according to the doctors, they believe he was "shaken," that he had taken his head and shook him real hard."

West said she came home from work on Saturday and found Skyler taking a nap.

"Kody seemed a little upset. He said well, your baby fell and hit his head," she said.

She looked at Skyler, but she said she didn't see a knot on his head. She said Kody told her he hit it on the sofa. But when she picked up Skyler later, she knew something was wrong.

"He was limp, and his lips were blue. That's what happened. I found my baby unconscious," said West.

That's when she rushed him to the hospital.

West said Kody had never been violent with her or her baby. He even decorated Skyler's room.

"He bought my baby diapers. He helped me in every way," she said.

And that's why she isn't sure if Kody meant to hurt her child. Regardless, West said she wants justice served.

"I believe it was an accident, but there's no excuse for what you've done. Kody, whatever happened in those last moments of my child, I just pray that you have all the time in the world to think about what you did to him," she said.

Memorial services for Skyler West-France are scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

He was an organ donor.

Kody Johnson will be back in court on September 9. He's being held on $1 million bond.

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