Man facing murder charges in infant's death: 'I'm not a bad parent'

Man facing murder charges in infant's death: 'I'm not a bad parent' »Play Video
Jordan Johnson, just a month old, died Wednesday in Bakersfield. Now, his parents are under arrest.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A Bakersfield father says he is not to blame for the death of his 1-month-old child. The tiny baby was found not breathing and died at Kern Medical Center. Both parents are facing murder charges.

James Willis Johnson, Jr. said little Jordan seemed fine, and he has no idea why the baby died. The baby was rushed to the hospital Wednesday morning, after the parents found him not breathing.

Johnson said the baby, his fiancee Denise Belmonte, 21, and the couple's toddler were staying with him in his apartment in the 2700 block of Idaho Street Tuesday night. The infant was sleeping near the couple. When he woke up, Johnson checked on the baby.

"I looked at my son, he looked like he was stiff, because he wasn't crying," Johnson told Eyewitness News Thursday in a jailhouse interview. "I touched him, he was as stiff as a doll."

The 31-year-old father said his fiancee called 911, and they both tried CPR.

On Thursday, the Kern County Coroner's office reported autopsy results finding the baby died from "multiple blunt force injuries with cutaneous 3rd degree burns."

"They said that I neglected my son by not taking him to the doctor because he had burns on his buttocks from the water three weeks prior," Johnson said. He told Eyewitness News that happened when Jordan was given a bath. "The water in the apartment is extremely hot."

The father said they didn't take the baby to a doctor, but about a week later they noticed blisters and called a pharmacy. Johnson said the pharmacist told them to get ointment.

Investigators say the baby also had fractured limbs.

"They said he has fractures on his arms and legs," Johnson said. Asked if he saw any sign of broken bones, Johnson said, No -- except for a lump on the infant's arm.

"I saw a lump on his left arm about a week ago," Johnson said. The father said he did not call a doctor about that.

Johnson said in 2008 he was accused of domestic violence, and court-ordered to take classes. Because of that, he was only supposed to have supervised visits with his children. Johnson said he hasn't completed the classes because he ended up in jail for a year on narcotic-possession charges.

The father said he and Denise Belmonte have three children together. The infant, a one-year-old, and a two-year-old. He said one child has been in foster care. Johnson has three other, older children.

The father said the night before the baby's death he had fallen asleep after drinking beer. He said the mother was caring for the infant.

"She told me she took his temperature at 93.1 degrees, she said the doctor said that wasn't normal," Johnson said Thursday. "She had tried to wake me up, but she didn't call the police at that time."

Johnson's mother, Anita Walker, told Eyewitness News she had never seen any signs of problems or neglect. Walker said Denise Belmonte and the baby had stayed with her at times.

"She was a good mother, she appreciated my help," Walker said.

James Johnson, Sr. also said his son has been a good father.

"That doesn't sound like James, he's a mild-mannered kid," Johnson, Sr. said.

He added he had only seen this grandson once. That was Tuesday night when the family was in the car at a grocery store.

"I just saw the top of his head in the car," Johnson said. "I said 'Hey, it's cold out here tonight, you guys need to put jackets on the kids.'"

Johnson's apartment has signs in the windows reading "No Trespassing." He said he grows medicinal marijuana in one room, and he has a permit for that. He said he has chronic back and knee pain and suffers with "post traumatic stress disorder." Johnson said that's from the time he served in the Navy from 1998 through 2001.

Denise Belmonte declined to be interviewed. According to information on the Kern County Sheriff's website, she was booked on suspicion of murder. Johnson faces the same charge.

The father says he was doing everything possible to provide for his children.

"I want to get this out that that I'm not a bad parent, I didn't neglect my child," Johnson said. "And now I'm in jail over something they said I did, which I did not do."