Local News

Man Awaiting Murder Trial Arrested In Toddler's Death

Posted August 18, 2006 2:52 a.m. EDT

— On the anniversary of a 22-month-old boy's death, a Durham man was arrested Friday and charged with killing the toddler, police said.

Justin Jaquane Hope, 26, is charged with murder in connection with the death of Deshaun Williamson. He already is awaiting trial on another murder charge, police said.

Hope was a friend of Williamson's family and was babysitting three children when the toddler was injured, police said. Officers responding to a call about an unresponsive child found that Deshaun wasn't breathing. The child was taken to Duke University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

An initial examination showed no outward signs of trauma, but an autopsy revealed the child suffered a fractured skull and died as a result of blunt-force trauma, police said.

Hope also is charged with assault on a child under 12 for allegedly throwing Deshaun's 5-year-old brother against a brick wall, police said. The brother did not suffer any serious injuries.

Hope was taken into custody Friday at the Lanesboro Correctional Institute in Polkton, where he is serving time for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He is one of three men charged with murder in connection with the 1997 shooting death of Michael Stevon Hunter.

Hunter, 27, of Scout Drive, was killed in a Nov. 24, 1997, drive-by shooting on the front lawn of Happy Rock United Holy Church, located at the intersection of Scout Drive and Enterprise Street, police said. Investigators believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

James Mark McClain Jr. of Durham and Anthony Liven Copeland of Chapel Hill have also been charged with murder in that case.