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No Charges: Man who confessed to beating toddler to death walks free from jail

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The Fresno County District Attorney declined to file charges Thursday against a Fresno man who allegedly told police that he punched a 14-month-old in the stomach, killing the infant.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said her office referred the case against Kenneth Johnson, 30, back to the Fresno Police Department, which announced the arrest and confession at a news conference Wednesday. Smittcamp said her office was still waiting on final reports, including those from the Fresno County Coroner’s Office.

Johnson allegedly told police during a three-hour interview Tuesday night that he punched the baby, José Luis Espinosa, because he was frustrated with Jose’s crying. The infant’s 20-year-old, live-in babysitter is Johnson’s girlfriend.

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said at the news conference that Jose died from internal trauma.

Dyer offered this statement Thursday night: “The District Attorney’s office has not requested any further investigative work of our detectives. However, they are requesting further examination by the Coroner’s Office. We remain confident that Kenneth Johnson is responsible for the death of 14-month-old José Espinosa. Fresno Police Department detectives are committed to working closely with the District Attorney’s office to ensure successful prosecution of this case.”

The baby’s mother was in Modesto at the time of the incident.

The Fresno Police Department can resubmit a case against Johnson, but he will be out of jail until they do. Johnson’s name was not listed in the Fresno County Jail’s online inmate registry site as of 7:20 p.m. Thursday.

Rory Appleton: 559-441-6015, @RoryDoesPhonics

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