Middletown man arraigned in 'savage' beating that killed toddler

Gionni Sellers, 23, is accused of repeatedly beating Xavier Johnson while he babysat the boy inside his mother’s apartment while she was at work in June.

Blaise Gomez

Dec 27, 2022, 6:06 PM

Updated 519 days ago


Three-year-old Xavier Johnson, from the town of Wallkill, should be playing with his Christmas toys. 
Instead, authorities say the toddler was robbed of that joy and his life during a brutal beating last summer at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, Gionni Sellers.  
Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler says the toddler was fatally beaten June 2 by the 23-year-old from Middletown after at least a week of abuse. 
They say the boy’s mother, Breanna Wilson, was at work and that Sellers was babysitting at her town of Wallkill apartment. 
“I describe it as savage, catastrophic injuries,” said Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler. “You would expect those injuries from a severe car crash or extreme high fall.”  
Xavier was found unconscious when a neighbor called 911 for help.  
Officials say the toddler had brain damage, retinal bleeding, broken bones and blunt force trauma to his torso that tore his liver multiple times.  
Prosecutors said at Sellers’ arraignment Tuesday that he was angry at the child’s mother for friending an ex-boyfriend on social media when he killed the toddler. 
They said Sellers’ phone history from late-May shows he looked up the effects of shaking a toddler and what to do when a child is hurt from being abused.  
They say Wilson thought her son was sick, didn’t realize he was being abused and thought the boy was suffering symptoms of Fifth disease.
A source tells News 12 Wilson brought her son to the doctor thinking he was sick days before his death and that CPS was called, but authorities won’t confirm that information and say CPS investigations are confidential.  
Sellers is charged with murder and homicide in the boy’s death and entered a not-guilty plea in Orange County Court.  
The little boy’s family was seen crying in court and gasped when bail was set at $750,000 cash or $5 million bond. 
Prosecutors say Sellers had an active arrest warrant for domestic violence against another woman unrelated to the case when he allegedly murdered Xavier Johnson.  They say during the 6-months it took to make an arrest in the murder case, Sellers was charged two more times for domestic violence against the same woman.  
Authorities say two of those domestic violence charges are still pending and one has been dismissed.  
Sellers is being held in Westchester County Jail due to safety concerns if he were jailed in Orange County, according to his attorney. 

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