GUTHRIE, Okla. (KFOR) – A man who murdered a one-year-old Guthrie boy last year was sentenced to prison this week.
On Friday, Justin Lastra entered a guilty plea to the 2019 murder of 13-month-old Damien Kai King.
The 31-year-old was sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole.
On Jan. 8, 2019, Lastra called 911 stating the child had fallen down the stairs in the Guthrie home where he lives with the child’s mother.
King was found to be critically injured.
Lastra told law enforcement the boy had fallen down the stairs while Lastra was in the bathroom.
The child was taken to Mercy Logan Hospital, but then later transferred to OU Children’s Hospital where he died from his injuries.
At a preliminary hearing in September for a companion case against the child’s mother, Michelle King, Dr. Mary Stockett, a specialist in child abuse pediatrics, testified the child suffered from multiple skull fractures, as well as trauma to many other parts of his body. Stockett testified this group of injuries would not be expected from a fall down the stairs and could not be considered accidental.
Officials say Lastra had been previously convicted in Payne County of four cases of domestic assault and battery involving his spouse and had been released from Department of Corrections custody in March of 2018.
Soon after his release, he met and moved in with King in her Guthrie home.
In December of 2018, King removed her child from daycare and placed Lastra in charge of him while she went to work.
King was at work when Lastra called 911.
A search of King and Lastra’s phones revealed that Lastra was in constant communication with Michelle during the time he cared for the child.
The district attorney’s office says “in numerous Facetime messages he is seen belittling and verbally abusing the child. The mother had taken photographs of the child in the same week he died in which his head and face were covered with bruises.”
According to District Attorney Laura Austin-Thomas, at Lastra’s request, his preliminary hearing had been continued three times and was set for March 31, 2020.
Thomas had filed a Bill of Particulars seeking the death penalty for Lastra.
Michelle was charged with child abuse for failing to protect her son from the threat of harm shown by Lastra.
She remains in the Logan County Jail in lieu of posting bond.
Her next court date is set for April 3.