File crime scene tape 2020

The day before Baton Rouge police received reports of an unresponsive infant, Jonathan Dunn had thrown the baby across a room, causing her to strike a shelving unit and land on the bed, where a bucket of hardware and tools came crashing down and knocked her to the floor, court records say.

An affidavit of probable cause that BRPD homicide detectives filed when Dunn was arrested reveals horrific new details about the case. Dunn, 34, was booked into jail early Sunday on murder counts after the child, Ja'Leah Fontenot, was admitted to the hospital and later pronounced dead Saturday night.

The East Baton Rouge coroner announced Monday that she died from blunt force trauma. She was 16 months old.

The alleged abuse occurred at 4858 Peerless Street in the Glen Oaks area. After being taken into police custody, Dunn told detectives that Ja'Leah had been dropped off at his house by her mother, Christy Fontenot, about five days earlier.

A BRPD spokesman said Dunn was not Ja'Leah's father, though he had two other children with Fontenot. 

Dunn admitted to police that he had been using heroin Friday night when he threw Ja'Leah across the bedroom, according to the arrest report. He described how she struck the shelving unit and fell onto the bed before rolling onto the floor, police said.

Dunn told detectives that the next day, the baby had "pulled a hot iron down from a shelf in the bedroom," which landed on her thigh and caused a large burn, police wrote in the report.

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According to police, Dunn said several times that he was "too busy" to get Ja'Leah medical care until she stopped breathing later Saturday evening, which is when he called 911.

When first responders arrived at his house, they found Ja'Leah unresponsive with a large burn to her left thigh and "bruises all about the body" and a diaper that appeared several days old, police said.

Detectives later interviewed the mother, who said she left Ja'Leah and another child with Dunn days earlier, according to police. She said Ja'Leah had no injuries at that time. The arrest report doesn't include information about why the children were left with Dunn and whether he had been violent with Ja'Leah in the past.

Police said the other child was unharmed.

Fontenot said she had checked in with Dunn several times after dropping them off, receiving no word about potential abuse or injuries, according to police.

Dunn was booked into jail on first-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to juveniles. He is being held without bond.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.