Father jailed for killing his three-year-old son by throwing him off a bridge
Tragic: Turner Nelson, 3, was thrown to his death off a Baltimore bridge in 2008 by his father Stephen Nelson
A man who killed his three-year-old son by throwing him off a bridge in Baltimore will receive a maximum of 50 years in prison under a plea bargain.
Stephen Nelson, 40, pleaded guilty today to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
A judge rejected a plea deal yesterday under which Nelson would serve a maximum of 30 years, calling that sentence too lenient.
The case was sent to a different judge for trial, and attorneys negotiated a deal with a 50-year sentencing cap.
Nelson acknowledged in court that he threw son Turner Nelson off the Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Patapsco River in February 2008.
The boy's body was found five months later.
Prosecutors said the man had been arguing with the boy's mother over a transfer of custody, and after killing his son, he tried to commit suicide by drinking cleaning chemicals.
Natisha Johnson, Turner's mother, said she is satisfied with the plea and it gives her closure.
Ms Johnson wept in court as Assistant State's Attorney Julie Drake read the facts of the case.
After throwing the boy from the bridge, Nelson called Ms Johnson and told her, 'I killed our son and it's all your fault. You're going to have to live with this in your heart.'
Robert Linthicum, one of Nelson's public defenders, said his client also did not want to go through the ordeal of a trial.
Plea bargain: Stephen Nelson agreed a deal today to serve a maximum of 50 years for throwing his son off Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Patapsco River
'It's a fair resolution to a difficult case,' Mr Linthicum said.
Attorneys for both sides downplayed the significance of the longer maximum sentence.
Ms Drake said her goal in pursuing the plea deal was to ensure that Nelson went to prison and not to a 'cushy mental hospital.'
As part of the deal, Nelson's attorneys withdrew a previous plea of not criminally responsible - the equivalent of an insanity defense.
The toddler's mother Natisha Johnson (left) said today that she is satisfied with the plea - her former partner Stephen Nelson (right) will be sentenced in January
'The primary concern was making sure that the defendant was held accountable for what he did, Ms Drake said.
She said she believed Nelson was criminally responsible for his actions but could not be certain that a jury would agree.
Attorneys revealed today that Nelson had suffered a stroke around the time that he killed his son.
Mr Linthicum said that was one of many mitigating factors the defense planned to present at sentencing, scheduled for January 28.
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