Justine M. Johnson sentenced for killing 3-year-old daughter

Justine M. Johnson (Iosco County Sheriff’s Office)

A 23-year-old mother in Michigan will spend the rest of her life behind bars for killing her 3-year-old daughter, claiming she brutally stabbed the child to death on orders from cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants.

Iosco County Circuit Judge David C. Riffel ordered Justine M. Johnson to serve a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2021 slaying of young Sutton Marie Mosser, who was stabbed 17 times just two days after celebrating her third birthday, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Johnson last month pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree felony murder and first-degree child abuse in her daughter’s Sept. 16, 2021, death. Additionally, Judge Riffel sentenced Johnson to a maximum of 50 years on the child abuse charge, to be served concurrent to the life sentence.

Johnson’s Sentencing Hearing

Before being sentenced, Johnson addressed the court, telling Judge Riffel that she had been suffering from several mental health problems since adolescence and had been self-medicating with narcotics prior to killing Mosser.

“At the age of 13 I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, bipolar, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), anxiety, and depression,” she says in courtroom footage posted by MLive. “In 2021 I had been without mental medication for one year and had been abusing drugs that included meth and heroin.”

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