(Guthrie, Okla.) — District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas announced today that former Cushing resident Justin Mitchell Lastra entered a guilty plea to the 2019 murder of a one year old Guthrie boy. Associate District Judge Louis Duel sentenced Lastra, 31, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On January 8, 2019, Lastra placed a 911 call that led police and emergency medical providers to the Guthrie home where Lastra lived with the child’s mother. The child was found to be critically injured and Lastra initially stated the child had fallen down the stairs in the home while Lastra was in the bathroom. After initial treatment at Mercy Logan Hospital, the child was transferred to OU Children’s Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
At Lastra’s request, his preliminary hearing had been continued three times and was next set for March 31, 2020. The District Attorney had filed a Bill of Particulars seeking the death penalty. In September 2019, at a preliminary hearing for a companion case against the child’s mother, 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 constellation of injuries would not be expected from a fall down the stairs and could not be considered accidental.
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 2018. Soon after his release, Lastra met and moved in with Michelle King in her Guthrie home. In December 2018, King removed her child from daycare and placed Lastra in charge of him while she worked. King was at work when Lastra made the 911 call. Law enforcement investigation by Guthrie Police Department and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation led to search warrants for the contents of King and Lastra’s phones and revealed that Lastra was in constant communication with King during the time he cared for the child. 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.
Austin-Thomas said, “This case represents the horror of domestic and child abuse. Justin Lastra had been prosecuted aggressively for his previous acts of domestic violence and was discharged from prison after serving only one year. This helpless and vulnerable child suffered sustained mental and physical abuse before his life was taken and anything short of removing his abuser from society forever would have been inadequate punishment.”
The child’s mother was charged with child abuse for failing to protect him from the threat of harm presented by Lastra. She remains in the Logan County Jail in lieu of posting bond. Her next court date is April 3.