Hayward Mom Samantha Johnson Pleads Not Guilty To Killing Her 8-Year-Old Daughter

CBS San Francisco
CBS San Francisco

MERCED (CBS SF) — Hayward mother Samantha Johnson pleaded not guilty Monday to charges she murdered her 8-year-old daughter Sophia Mason, whose body was found in a bathtub inside the Merced County home of Johnson’s boyfriend.

Dressed in a yellow jail jumpsuit, Johnson did not speak as her public defender Beth Lee entered the plea in Merced Superior Court.

Outside the courtroom, Lee told reporters that Johnson was also a victim of her boyfriend, 34-year-old Dhante Jackson, who remains at large and is also charged with murder in the case.

“There were two victims of Mr. Jackson,” she said. “One survived and one didn’t…I really want to stress there is more to the story.”

Deputy District Attorney Katie Gates told reporters that a preliminary hearing has been tentatively scheduled for April 11. Johnson was currently being held in county jail without bail.

The girl’s body was found on March 11 at Jackson’s home, two days after Hayward police detectives asked for the public’s help in locating Mason, saying she was considered at-risk.

Police said family members told them the girl was last seen in December. Following the discovery of the girl’s body, family members said Child Protective Services had not heeded repeated warnings about the girl’s mother .

Samantha Johnson, Dhante Jackson, Sophia Mason (Merced County DA’s Office/Hayward PD)

The day before police found the body, the 31-year-old Johnson was arrested on child abuse charges after giving investigators suspicious information regarding her daughter’s whereabouts. She eventually gave Hayward police enough information to have them ask Merced police to check out the home on Barclay Way.

The coroner’s office has not revealed the cause of the little girl’s death.

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