A former California Highway Patrol officer whose tearful testimony of self-defense failed to sway a jury was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for murder of her husband.
Tomiekia Johnson cried with her head down as the judge sentenced her to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison for first-degree murder and the use of a firearm that caused great bodily harm. A jury convicted her in January 2012 for the shooting of Marcus Lemons in the head in February 2009. The shooting occurred during a heated argument on the side of the road in Compton.
The sentencing phase marked the end of a case that was filled with allegations of domestic violence and volatile tempers. In a rare conviction of a police officer for murder, the conclusion was as emotionally charged as the trial. When the verdict was read, she collapsed under her attorney's table and had to be wheeled from the courtroom by paramedics.
During the sentencing, her attorney argued for the judge to throw out the guilty verdict to make way for a new trial or show leniency and reduce the charges to manslaughter. However, the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge denied both requests, but said he considered reducing the charges to second-degree murder. Instead, he chose to honor the jury's decision.
Johnson and her husband had been drinking at a TGI Friday's in Compton when they got into an argument. Prosecutors presented evidence that showed that on the way home, she put a gun to his head and shot him. She drove a few miles to her parents' home with the body in the car before calling 911.
During the murder trial, prosecutors called witnesses who portrayed Johnson with an aggressive personality and a tendency to drink excessively. When she testified in her own defense, she told a story of the night that she killed her husband. She said she was driving home when he snatched the keys out of the ignition. A struggle ensued over her purse. She claimed that he wanted her purse to obtain her gun. Johnson said they fought for the gun. When she grabbed the weapon off the ground, it accidentally fired.
After the jury deliberated for more than a day, they found her guilty of murder. When the verdict was read, she shook, then slid under the table where she was seated with her attorneys. Paramedics responded and wheeled her out on a gurney as court proceedings continued.
In California, first-degree murder is a homicide that was committed intentionally with premeditation or malice aforethought. If you are facing any type of violent crime criminal charges you need a strong legal defense team to protect you immediately.
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