State of Missouri v. James Johnson

968 S.W. 2d 123 (Mo.banc 1998)

James Johnson was executed at 12:06 a.m., January 9, 2002.

Johnson_James_2 Case Facts: On December 8, 1991 James Johnson was involved in an argument with his daughter Dawn Becker, who lived with Johnson and his wife Jerri Wilson in Moniteau County, Missouri. During the argument Johnson stated that he “couldn’t take it anymore” and was going to move out. His wife told him that if his daughter moved out she would too. Johnson then told his wife to choose between him or their daughter. When Mrs. Johnson chose their daughter Johnson ordered both of them from the home. When they did not leave Johnson took a rifle and pointed it at both of the women and forcibly removed his daughter from the house.

A few minutes later Johnson loaded some guns and ammunition into his car and drove away. He returned a short time later with his daughter and told his wife he wanted to work things out. Shortly thereafter Moniteau County Deputy Sheriff Les Roark arrived at the house to investigate a domestic disturbance. Roark asked to speak with Ms. Becker, but Johnson refused. Mrs. Johnson brought Becker to
the door and told Roark that they were both fine. As Roark was walking back to his patrol car Johnson stepped outside and shot the deputy twice. Johnson stepped inside the house, but when he heard Roark moaning he went back outside and shot him in the forehead, killing him.

Johnson then left the house in his car with his guns and ammunition, some clothes and a thermos. Johnson drove to the home of Moniteau County Sheriff Kenny Jones whose family was having a Christmas Party. Using a .22 caliber rifle Johnson fired shots on a group of people he saw through a window. Pam Jones, wife of Sheriff Jones was struck five times in the shoulder, face, neck and back of the head. She died at the scene in front of her family.

Johnson then went to the home of Deputy Sheriff Russell Borts who was talking on the telephone. Johnson shot him four times in the face, hand and chest. Deputy Borts survived the attack.

Johnson then went to the Moniteau County Sheriff’s Office where law enforcement officers from around the area had gathered following the shootings. When word reached them that Deputy Borts had been shot the officers left the office. Johnson, who was laying in wait outside the office, opened fire and shot Cooper County Sheriff Charles Smith four times with .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. Sheriff Smith died from the gunshot wounds to his face, side, head and back. Moments later Miller County Deputy Sheriff Sandra Wilson arrived at the office. As she was getting out of her car Johnson shot her in the chest with an eight millimeter, bolt action Mauser rifle. Deputy Wilson died at the scene.

Johnson was able to escape the scene and hid on the back porch of a local resident, Dorothy Mae Miller. The next morning Johnson confronted Mrs. Miller and held her hostage for most of the day. Johnson allowed her to leave her house in the evening so she could attend a Christmas party where she was expected. Upon her release Mrs. Miller contacted authorities and told them where Johnson was. Law enforcement went to Mrs. Miller’s home, whereupon they talked Johnson into surrendering.

Last Statement – Oyfeider James Johnson
“To the families of Leslie Roark, Pam Jones, Charles Smith and Sandra Wilson, I am profoundly sorrowful for taking their lives. I know that I have caused irreparable damage to each surviving family member. I also feel responsible for the unexpected deaths of Mrs. Charles Smith and Mr. Elba Roark. I am truly sorry that I have caused each family member along with their friends so much pain and suffering. I earnestly pray for your forgiveness. I can only hope that taking me out of this world will somehow bring closure to this devastating time in your life, and fulfill your healing process. May God grant you his strength and bring total healing and complete restoration in your lives. To all my loved ones; family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ; I am so sorry for all the pain, confusion, heartache and mental duress that I have brought upon your lives. Please find it in your hearts to forgive me. The news reports today will say Jim Johnson is dead, those reports will be untrue. Today I will meet the one who gave his life for my sins. The one who extended to me mercy. Today I shall meet Jesus my Lord and Savior face to face. When the executioners have done their worst, God will be shown to have done his best. May the God of all grace bring peace to your hearts.”


Legal Chronology:1991
12/10 – James Johnson is arrested for four counts of Murder First Degree in Moniteau County, Missouri.

02/01 – Johnson goes on trial and is convicted on four counts of Murder First Degree following a ten day trial. The jury recommends a sentence of death.
04/23 – Johnson is sentenced to each of the four counts of Murder First Degree.
08/26 – Johnson files a post-conviction motion for relief in the Circuit Court.

10/10 – Johnson’s post-conviction motion for relief is denied by the Circuit Court.

04/30 – The Missouri State Supreme Court affirms Johnson’s conviction and sentence along with the Circuit Court’s denial of Johnson’s motion for post-conviction relief.

10/15 – Johnson files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court.

02/23 – The United States District Court denies Johnson’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.
06/14 – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals declines to review the District Court’s order denying Johnson’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.

03/19 – The United States Supreme Court denies Johnson’s petition for writ of certiorari.
12/11 – The Missouri State Supreme Court sets January 9, 2002 as Johnson’s execution date.