December 15, 2023, Peoria, IL – Today, prosecutors with the Peoria County State’s Attorney's office convicted Brandon R. Walker, 42, of First Degree Murder in the death of his eight-year-old son, Navin Jones. Navin had been starved, beaten, abused, and imprisoned. It took the jury about 45 minutes to convict Walker.
“My office, this jury, and our community have cared more for Navin in his death than his parents ever did in his life. Good riddance to them.” – Jodi M. Hoos, Peoria County State’s Attorney
On March 29, 2022, police responded to a 911 call for a child who was not breathing and unresponsive. Upon arrival, it was obvious that Navin was severely malnourished. At trial, witnesses described Navin as “looking like a cancer patient, but with hair.” Another said he didn’t look human. “I’ve never seen a human being that thin. He was like a little skeleton laying there with skin on.” Contrary to the overwhelming testimony and pictures describing Navin’s deplorable condition, the defendant testified that Navin “seemed okay to him.”
Navin’s bedroom was not much better. Despite the rest of the home being well-furnished, Navin’s bedroom only had a dresser, a bed without sheets or blanket, and one toy. There was a note on his door that said, “Do not give Navin any food or drinks! Do not let him out of the room.” The doorknob to his room was missing, and the door had been tied shut, so he could not get out. The room reeked of urine, and feces was found in his closet.
According to medical testimony, Navin had no underlying conditions to cause his weight loss. In June 2021, he weighed 43lbs. Nine months later he weighed only 30lbs. Navin’s muscles and internal organs were atrophied or wasted away. Experts believed this weight loss was either caused by severe calorie restriction over a long period of time or food was withheld entirely from him over a shorter period of time.
Navin’s body was also covered with injuries. He had blunt force injuries to his face, front and back of his body, arms, and legs. He had ligature marks on his wrists and waist where he had been tied up. The injuries were of varying ages.
Navin’s abuse was documented through text messages between Walker and the child’s mother, Stephanie Jones. Those text messages talked about locking Navin in his room, tying him up in the basement, expressing anger when he was able to escape, and that Navin would dig in the trash for food.
In closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Terry Muench summed up Walker’s care for his son, “The defendant had no interest in providing Navin with anything.” Stressing the importance of holding both parents accountable, Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Cruz added, “Navin had two parents and two murderers.”
Walker is eligible for life in prison when he is sentenced on February 28, 2024.