2 charged in 2017 death of Johnston City boy - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

2 charged in 2017 death of Johnston City boy

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UPDATE: 7/3/19 AT 6:35 P.M.

JOHNSTON CITY (WSIL) -- After nearly two years, charges have been filed in the death of an 11-month old child.

The Williamson County State's Attorney accuses Jesse Martin of beating Alexander James Wohlgemuth to death. The mother, Rochelle Wohlgemuth, also faces charges for leaving her child with dangerous people.

"My son was my life," Wohlgemuth told News 3's Joe Ragusa on Facebook in March. "We did everything together. And to be honest, I am still lost without my little sidekick."

Wohlgemuth said Alexander James, or AJ for short, was a wonderful baby who was a delight to be around. News 3 communicated with Rochelle while working on a follow up to AJ's death.

The case has been open since September 29, 2017, when first responders found the child with serious injuries at a home in Johnston City.

Rochelle said three days later, doctors determined AJ was brain dead, "I held my son in my arms and sang to him (while) they turned the machines off."

On Monday, a grand jury charged Martin with first degree murder and Wohlgemuth with child endangerment.

Wohlgemuth told News 3 she left AJ with a woman she knew for 10 years while she went out on a first date, but she had no idea Martin would also be at the home.

The indictment said she left her child with two known drug users and a juvenile who had violent incidents in the past. Martin was about a month away from turning 18 at the time.

AJ's father, Jason Donovan, told News 3 through Facebook messages that his relationship with Rochelle had already ended when AJ was born.

He says he was crushed when he learned Rochelle was only charged with child endangerment-- and he believes she should also face murder charges.

"I believe honestly that the charge she got was so crushing," Donovan said. "Guess it's OK to kill (your) child as long as (you) aren't directly involved."

News 3 has also requested documents related to the investigation from Illinois State Police in March, a request the agency denied.

WSIL is appealing that decision, which is pending with the Illinois Attorney General.

ORIGINAL STORY: 7/3/19 AT 9:21 A.M.

JOHNSTON CITY (WSIL) -- A Williamson County grand jury has indicted two people in the 2017 death of an 11-month-old Johnston City boy.

Jesse R. Martin, 19, of Johnston City, faces a first degree murder charge.

Rochelle Wohlgemuth, 32, of Benton, faces a charge for endangering the life of a child. She is the victim's mother.

In September 2017, Alexander James Wohlgemuth died of blunt force trauma to the head. The indictment says Martin caused a "blunt head injury" to Wohlgemuth.

The Johnston City Police Department, Illinois State Police, and the Child Death Task Force investigated the incident.

"This was a very complicated case to present to the Grand Jury due to many factors, including the length of time of the investigation. Sometimes cases take time to investigate properly, and I commend the police agencies involved for their thorough investigative work that led to these indictments." Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti said.

Martin and Wohlgemuth are being held in the Williamson County Jail. 

Martin's bond is set at $1 million while Wohlgemuth's is $100,000.

Wohlgemuth has other current criminal charges pending, including charges for possession of meth and retail theft.  

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