Boyfriend guilty in death of girlfriend's son, faces 40 year prison term

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Crystal man pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend’s toddler and agreed to serve 40 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Quran Mitchell, 22, entered his guilty plea late Tuesday in the death of Joshua Lockhart, Jr., who died eight days after his second birthday. Mitchell also admitted to four extraordinary circumstances, including the boy’s vulnerability, Mitchell’s abuse of a position of authority as a primary caregiver while his girlfriend worked, invasion of the boy’s zone of safety and the particular cruelty of the killing.

With those admissions, the judge will impose the 40-year prison term, instead of the nearly 14 years in prison recommended by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Under the agreement, prosecutors will drop the first-degree murder indictment, which would result in life in prison without parole if he were convicted. Instead, Mitchell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

During his court appearance Tuesday, Mitchell, in answers to questions from his attorney, acknowledged that he, his girlfriend and the boy everyone called Junior, lived in a single room of a house in Crystal which they rented from the owners.

On Feb. 11, an ambulance was called because the boy was not breathing. He died in the hospital the following day. Mitchell admitted that he hit the child several times that day. With his voice cracking from emotion, he acknowledged that he hit Lockhart so hard that the boy had bleeding on the brain and retinal hemorrhages which would have left him blind in his right eye. In addition, there was bruising all over his body from earlier beatings, he admitted.

Mitchell will be sentenced on Dec. 28.