The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday (5/25/06) in the case of State of Missouri vs. Johnny A. Johnson (SC86689). Johnson is appealing a first-degre murder conviction and death sentence. From the court’s docket summary:
After Johnny Johnson stayed with friends one night in July 2002 at their home in Valley Park, the friends’ six-year-old daughter disappeared. A witness saw Johnson walking that morning, carrying a little girl on his back. Although Johnson initially told the girl’s mother that he did not know where the child was, he later surrendered himself to police and agreed to go to the police station. Later in the day, Johnson told police he had killed the girl by accident, that her body was in an old glass factory, and where she could be found. After police recovered the girl’s body, they told Johnson it did not look like an accident. He then told them that he had exposed himself to her, and when she refused his advances, he hit her in the head with a brick and threw a boulder onto her, killing her. He told police he then covered her body with rocks and debris. The state charged Johnson with one count each of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping and attempted forcible rape. While he was in jail awaiting trial, doctors treated Johnson for anxiety, depression and symptoms of psychosis. Following trial, the jury found Johnson guilty of each count and recommended the death penalty. The court sentenced him to consecutive sentences of death for the murder conviction and life in prison for the remaining convictions. Johnson appeals.
We (Missourinet.com) stream the arguments live (to subscribers) so I wind up listening to a lot of these arguments. Arguments before the state supreme court are nothing like the arguments we see in the movies and on TV. Pretty dry stuff. But this question (AUDIO) (of Johnson’s attorney) by one of the judges caught my attention (Warning: His description of the murder is graphic).
In the interest of fairness, you can download and listen to the full argument (runs almost an hour) but it sounds like Johnson’s attorney is trying to explain how the murder could be “intentional” but not “deliberate.”