Man Charged With Beating Toddler to Death

Armaney Cotton was discovered with bruises, scratches, and bite marks all over her body

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Devell Johnson

    A 23-year-old Chicago man was charged Monday with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl who'd been in his care over the weekend.

    Devell M. Johnson, of the 5500 block of South Emerald Avenue, is expected to appear in court Tuesday, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office confirmed with NBC Chicago.

    Johnson was caring for Armaney Cotton on Saturday while the girl's mother, 19-year-old Brittany Cotton, went to work at a downtown hotel. An ambulance was called to Johnson's home at about 4:30 Saturday afternoon, and Johnson called Cotton to let her know the girl was taken to the hospital after he was unable to wake the girl.

    The little girl was found with bruises and scratches throughout her body, as well as what appeared to be human bite marks, according to the family and police. 

    Armaney Cotton was pronounced dead at the hospital and her death ruled a homicide.

    Cotton told the Chicago Sun-Times that she'd left Armaney in Johnson's care several times before. 
     
    "This was someone I loved and trusted to protect her, not harm her,"  she said. "I don’t understand why this happened to her."

    Cotton was devastated when she saw the extent of the injuries suffered -- and convinced they couldn’t have been inflicted by an accidental fall.

    "Babies fall all the time. They don’t get cuts and bruises and bites," Cotton said. "She did not fall."

    Cotton, who lives with her mother, said she may have to seek donations to pay for her daughter’s funeral expenses.

    The state’s Department of Children and Family Services is investigating, spokesman Kendall Marlowe said. The agency has not had prior contact with the family and there are no other children in the home.