Murdered infant's mother defends killer in court

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The only life 2-month-old Javon Thompson knew was one of being treated like a rag doll, said senior deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy.

"This was a victim who could not say 'stop' or ask for help," Murphy said Friday, Oct. 20, at the sentencing hearing of Javon's father, Jonathan Colby Thompson, who pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in Javon's death.

Even Thompson's defense attorney, John Rutkowski, acknowledged in court that it's "very difficult to minimize what happened."

Jonathan Colby Thompson

Thompson declined to make a statement at his sentencing hearing, but York City Police Detective Christopher Perry, who investigated the June 2016 homicide, read aloud a statement in court.

"It is my hope Jonathan Thompson will someday understand his actions and atone for killing his son," Perry said

Tragic 'from start to finish': The detective described the case as "a tragedy from start to finish."

Part of what made it so tragic was that Javon's mother, Allison Barnhart, "appeared to be more concerned with her love for Jonathan Thompson" than with the fact that her child eventually died from repeated physical abuse, Perry told the judge.

Perry made the statement moments after Barnhart spoke in court to defend Thompson.

"This was not malicious in any kind of way," she told Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder. "It's just kind of unfortunate."

She described Thompson as "a good guy" who "loved that little boy" but who was inexperienced as a parent and therefore was too rough with Javon.

"I feel like he wasn't ready ... to take care of an infant," Barnhart told the judge. "And I didn't see it."

Numerous injuries: Javon, called "Wodie" by his family, was treated at Hershey Medical Center, where on May 26, 2016, it was determined he suffered bleeding on his brain, eye hemorrhages, leg fractures, multiple broken ribs that had begun to heal and seizures, documents state.

He was declared dead June 10, 2016, at Hershey Medical Center after being removed from life support, according to court documents.

Saying Thompson has shown no remorse for murdering his son, Judge Snyder sentenced him to the maximum punishment allowed by state law — 20 to 40 years in state prison.

"His egregious conduct regarding his infant son requires significant punishment for justice to be done and, moreover, society deserves to be protected from the defendant's outrageous behavior," the judge said.

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Criminal history: Snyder also noted that Thompson "has a substantial history of assaultive behavior, dating back to at least 2004."

Thompson, 31, of Owings Mills, Maryland, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder Sept. 1 in an open plea, meaning it was up to Snyder to determine an appropriate sentence.

At the time of Javon's death, Thompson was living with Barnhart and their son in the 400 block of Juniper Street, according to court records.

After the hearing, Murphy said it's not unheard of for mothers of children murdered by their fathers to defend the fathers.

"It's not the first time I've seen it," Murphy said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.