Father of Newburgh survivor speaks out from prison

April 15, 2011 2:19:39 PM PDT
The biological father of the only survivor of the Newburgh drownings is speaking out from prison.

LaShaun Armstrong was already dealing with a void in his life, his biological father Todd Johnson is in prison, and hasn't seen LaShaun in over two years.

Friday, Johnson spoke with Eyewitness News by phone, about LaShanda Armstrong and Tuesday's deadly act.

"I loved this woman, this was my baby's mother. I had the highest regard for her," said Johnson.

Johnson was convicted of armed robbery in 2006. LaShanda Armstrong eventually began a relationship with Jean Pierre, who fathered her three youngest children.

Johnson says things changed drastically, communication was cut and he stopped getting visits from his son.

"Guys are very controlling in situations like that, and I think he was a very controlling and possessive guy," adds Johnson.

Friends have described a stormy relationship between Pierre and Armstrong, mainly about his alleged infidelity. On the very day of the drownings, Armstrong obtained an order of protection. Back in February Pierre was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Pierre was supposed to be watching his kids that evening but a neighbor found 2-year-old Lance wandering in front of the family's apartment at 1 am, in the cold dressed only in his underwear.

"I just want him to know that none of this is (LaShaun's) fault," Johnson adds.

Johnson says prison officials won't allow him to attend next week's funerals because he was never legally married to LaShanda.

The 26-year-old is eligible for release next year.

DA Frank Phillips said that the mother, Lashanda Armstrong is the one responsible for the deaths.

Armstrong died, along with 5-year-old Landen Pierre, 2-year-old Lance Pierre and 11-month-old Laianna Pierre. Ten-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong escaped the sinking van and survived.

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