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Toddler Bounces Back Months After Capitol Heights Shooting

Shooter convicted on three counts by Prince George's County Court

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Deondre Johnson and his mother, Shaketa Johnson near their home in Capitol Heights, Md. Deondre was shot last year as he played outside his home. 
Armando Trull
Deondre Johnson and his mother, Shaketa Johnson near their home in Capitol Heights, Md. Deondre was shot last year as he played outside his home. 

Deondre Johnson looks like any other 3-year-old as he plays on his pogo stick, except that the big smile on his face is a sharp contrast to the tracheotomy stoma and plastic airway in his frail throat. 

Deondre was injured in a shooting in Capitol Heights, Md. last summer; this week, the teenager accused of wielding the gun was convicted by a Prince George's County court. 

It's a small comfort for Deondre's mother, Shaketa Johnson, who says her son has a long road of medical attention ahead, including surgeries.

"It's a blessing, it's amazing that he's doing okay," she says. "He's good. He's here."

Deondre was playing in front of his apartment this past August when he was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle; the bullet entered his mouth and exited his throat. 

"It's tragic, but he's here, he's alive," says his uncle Kelsey Dodson. "That's a good thing; that's what's keeping us going."

This week a Prince Georges County court offered a tiny measure of justice to this tiniest and most innocent of victims. Deven Matos, 17, a local amateur boxer, was found guilty of first and second degree assaults and the use of a handgun in a violent crime. 

"We have removed  from the community a violent individual," said Angela Alsobrooks, the State's Attorney for Prince George's County. Matos could face as many as 75 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Deondre's family says the toddler faces as many as 10 years of medical procedures to monitor and heal potential problems. Meanwhile, he is getting a different type of medicine: a lot of love.


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