Ryan St. John

Murder trial: 2-year-old boy’s injuries were ‘violent and horrific’

UPDATE (6:18 p.m. Monday)

Graphic autopsy photos of 2-year-old Brayden Ferguson shown to the jury in Monday’s first day of the murder trial against Ryan “Luke” St. John caused some members of the gallery to gasp, cry and leave the courtroom.

“His injuries tell a violent and horrific story,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kelly Madzey told the jury during opening statements. “You’ll learn throughout the course and the testimony and the evidence in this case that Brayden died of multiple blunt-force injuries, including a devastating skull fracture across the back of his head.”

St. John, 23, faces murder and other charges for the February 2017 death of Ferguson, the son of his girlfriend Kelsie Martin. St. John has pleaded not guilty.

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Defense attorney William Cass Jr. told the jury that more than one person had access to Brayden the morning of Feb. 13, 2017, and that the case is a “whodunit.”

Madzey said Brayden was normal and healthy at 8 a.m. that day when Martin left to go to court, and to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to deal with a traffic issue. “She never got to see him that way again,” Madzey said.

Madzey said St. John texted Martin and that Brayden spit up or vomited. The prosecutor told the jury that when she returned around 10:30 a.m. she saw Brayden sleeping in her bed where she left him.

St. John and Martin smoked marijuana, watched a movie and then decided to take a shower, Madzey said. Before that, Martin sees Brayden appear to be half-awake and puts on a movie for him.

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“What she didn’t know and now what she likely now will never be able to forget, is that though he looked half-awake, Brayden was laying there dying,” Madzey said.

Close to 1 p.m. that day, Martin found Brayden not breathing and turning blue, Madzey said, and Martin called 911.

“You’ll hear the terrified and panicked voice of a mother who just found her 2-year-old not breathing,” Madzey said. “And it won’t be easy to listen to.”

Madzey said that while Martin is calling 911 and riding with medics to Dayton Children’s Hospital and answering questions, St. John has fled the scene. “This defendant ran and hid,” Madzey said, adding that St. John was located at about 2 a.m. Feb. 14, 2017 at his brother’s apartment.

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Madzey said St. John’s assertion that he has no idea of how Brayden got injured is “insultingly ridiculous.”

Cass told the jury that evidence will show that St. John is not guilty and not the one who caused Brayden’s injuries. “This is a whodunit,” Cass said. “There were two people that were around Brayden that day.”

Cass said Brayden was not the healthiest child because he had been sick and was small for a child some six weeks from his third birthday.

“It gives you some insight into the level of care that Brayden received,” Cass said. “I think that will be important when you tie all this together.”

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Cass said Martin gave birth to St. John’s son in November 2017 and that they lived as a family and St. John was a stay-at-home dad and loved both boys and took care of them by himself many times.

Dr. Robert Schott of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office testified that the numerous injuries on Brayden’s body could not be caused by a fall from a bed or hitting his head or chest.

Schott said of the injuries were closer to those he’s seen in either high-speed motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds or a fall from four or five stories.

The trial resumes Tuesday afternoon in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer’s courtroom. The trial is expected to take all week.


Jury selection finished shortly before noon today in the trial of a Dayton man accused of killing a 2-year-old child.

Ryan “Luke” St. John, 23, faces murder and other charges for the February 2017 death of Brayden Ferguson, the son of his girlfriend Kelsie Martin.

Jury selection began this morning in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer’s courtroom. St. John has pleaded not guilty. Twelve jurors and two alternates were picked.

A jury view of a Southshore Drive apartment similar to where Brayden lived is scheduled after lunch with opening statements to follow.

The secretive case includes the judge’s sealing of the docket, which is hidden from the public only in rare circumstances.

A Dayton police detective also was disciplined for not following up on an investigation that started when St. John was arrested — but never formally charged — for allegedly injuring Brayden in November 2015.

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Some of the records of that closed case were denied after a request from this news organization. A police report was provided with heavy redactions.

A request for Dayton police detective Lindsey Dulaney’s “special” report about the November 2015 incident was requested from the city of Dayton on March 19.

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Brayden died of blunt-force injuries, according to the county coroner. St. John and Martin also have a child together.

Dulaney was suspended for five days — which she converted to vacation time — and moved to a different unit after Brayden’s death.

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