Melissa “Missy” St. John on the witness stand Thursday during the murder trial of her son, Ryan “Luke” St. John. MARK GOKAVI/Staff

Murder trial defense witnesses didn’t hear St. John talk of prison

Relatives of Ryan “Luke” St. John testified Thursday that they didn’t hear any comments like, “I don’t want to go to prison” from the defendant on trial for the death of 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson.

St. John, 23, is on trial facing murder and other counts for the February 2017 death of Ferguson, who died of multiple blunt-force injuries.

Earlier in the trial Brayden’s mother, Kelsie Martin, testified that she heard St. John say something about prison after Brayden was discovered not breathing and turning blue. Martin, who called 911, admitted on cross examination that she didn’t tell police that during her initial interview.

Janie Lee Williams, the girlfriend of one of St. John’s brothers, said she came from her apartment across the street and tried to give CPR to Brayden because nobody else was.

Williams said Martin was kneeling next to Brayden doing “nothing” but “staring.” Williams said she picked up a phone from the love seat and talked to the 911 dispatcher. “(Martin) said nothing while I was there,” Williams said.

On cross examination, Williams said she didn’t know what happened or what Martin did before she entered the apartment on Southshore Drive in Dayton.

Williams said St. John was still outside the apartment building when medics left with Brayden and just as police were arriving. Williams said she saw Martin kiss St. John before Martin got into the ambulance and that Martin acted “fine.”

Testimony also was heard from St. John’s brothers Ian “Chance” and Bryan “Zachary” St. John along with St. John’s mother, Melissa or “Missy” St. John.

The family members testified that their family is close and that St. John and Brayden acted like father and son and loved each other.

Missy said she loved Brayden like he was her own grandson. She said Brayden was clumsy and had run into a wall at her place the week before his death.

Missy also said she told her son to leave as the police were coming because it was her instinct as a mother but that he didn’t want to go.

On redirect examination, Missy said family ties wouldn’t cloud her testimony.

“I would not lie for my son,” she said. “I would never cover up for somebody hurting a baby.”

The trial is scheduled to resume Friday morning with another witness for the defense. Court officials expect closing arguments to take place Friday and the jury to get the case.

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