Babysitter, 14, charged with murder in 3-year-old's death

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 14-year-old boy is charged with murder in the beating death of a 3-year-old girl he babysat.

Johnathan Godwin was arrested Friday on a warrant charging him with murder and aggravated child abuse, according to a news release provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

News4Jax chose to name the teen because of the severity of the crime he's accused of committing.

Godwin was left in charge of the girl and two other children Aug. 16. At some point, police said, he got upset because the girl was crying, so he hit her repeatedly with his fist and a belt. 

According to a police report, officers were called just after 9 p.m. Aug. 16 to a business on Moncrief Road near Edgewood Avenue West after the girl was found unresponsive in a vehicle. 

The Sheriff's Office said the girl was found unconscious by Godwin’s mother and was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined her death was a homicide.

Police said Godwin admitted harming the girl and a previous incident in which another child was burned.

"If the mother had known the background of this 14-year-old, she probably would have never left this child with this kid, given he had a history of abuse with other children," News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said. "When I heard about this case, it saddened my heart to know a 3-year-old is deceased."

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