Thursday, October 9, 2008

Precious Doe Killer, Harrell Johnson, Convicted

Harrell Johnson was convicted of First Degree Murder in the death of the 3-year old daughter of his wife known as Precious Doe. CNN reports that in exchange for agreeing to allow the trial to take place in Kansas City, the prosecution asked for Life in Prison without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.

During closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors a guilty verdict would finally bring justice in a case that brought an outpouring of public grief after a police officer found Erica's naked, headless body in a wooded area of Kansas City in April 2001.

Do you think the guilty verdict will really bring justice to this case? Would the death penalty have accomplished that if they'd sought it?

While high on drugs, according to the mother of the victim, Johnson kicked the little girl. The couple decided not to seek help because they had outstanding warrants and were afraid of being arrested. Michelle Johnson, 33, testified against her husband Tuesday after she pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in Erica's death.

A pediatric neurosurgeon testified Monday that if the couple had quickly sought medical attention for Erica, doctors probably could have reversed the damage.

On the Rush of Time blog, Jim takes issue with the prosecutor.

On the Pearl's Window site, there's a heartbreaking picture of the little girl, but no opinions that I could see.

What's your opinion? Does the fact that he was high on drugs mitigate the gravity at all? What about that exchange? Is it right for the prosecutor to trade the death penalty for an agreement to keep the case in his own jurisdiction? And, what do you think about the mother? Isn't it a bit severe to charge her with murder when she just failed to get medical help out of fear?


  1. If, while packing my gun, I decided to walk into a bar (legal in Mass) and start dropping bourbons one-after-another (illegal in Mass), in my legless state, I take the train home, at the station a homeless person hassles me for change...being drunk and irrational, I decide to shoot him.

    Would the fact that I was fall-down drunk at the time curb MORE sympathy for me, or less?

    Seeing as I was a dumb-fuck and got irresponsibly drunk in public (Also illegal in most places...but rarely enforced alone) while having the added responsibility of carrying a gun....nope I'd deserve EVERYTHING the prosecution and judge could throw at me, including death.

    Watching a child while being that fucked-up on dope is just as irresponsible, and he deserves what he got.

    As for "Bringing Justice" one must just look at the meaning of the word:
    "1 a: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments"

    This IS, by definition, "Justice".

    Being murder of a child, the irresponsibility of the defendant, and the attempted cover-up of the crime, I wouldn't be upset seeing this end in execution, but seeing as MikeB's sympathy for the monster who did this is hardly uncommon in this nation these days, I'm happy enough to see a conviction.

  2. Mike,

    What did the mom fear more, the loss of her freedom or the injuries to her child? The answer is the loss of her freedom. I didn't see anything in there about the boyfriend threatening the mom, just fear of being arrested. How valued was that little girl?

    Here in Fort Worth a while back there was a case of a nurse who struck a man while she was driving drunk, she failed to render aid, failed to call anyone to help the man who was stuck in her windshield. This nurse who is supposed to help people allowed the man to bleed out in her garage! How is this cold and callous act really any different?

    The mom knew the little girl would die without help, she had the responsibility to act. That failure of a parents duty isn't simple neglect, it is a willful and complete abdication of responsibility. I think murder doesn't really describe what she did, but it's the best the law can do.

  3. Weer'd, When you say this: "MikeB's sympathy for the monster who did this is hardly uncommon in this nation these days," I don't know if I get you. I say it's very uncommon. Isn't it true that the majority of Americans want the death penalty and that the majority feel like these "monsters" forfeit their right to be treated with respect? I say my views are quite uncommon. That's the problem.

  4. I'd disagree....I don't think the majority of Americans belive in the death sentence....and the majority of the people who DO belive in it either A: for Revenge, or B: Belive in it only if the person is declared as Satan himself...otherwise there should be enugh tax payers money wasted on appeals untill the monster dies of old age.

    If the Majority of Americans belived in the death sentense a person being executed would garner as much news as somebody sentenced to life in prison.

  5. And also why so much sympathy for monsters who do nothing but harm to society?

    I feel that such sentiment not only results in lax sentencing and more violence and harm to the innocent, but it also cheapens the deeds of those who do nothing but good.

  6. 1. I don't have a problem with the prosecutor taking the death penalty off the table to keep the trial in his own jurisdiction. If the defense agreed to it, it's because they believed it was in the best interest of their client to do so. Deals are made btwn the prosecution and defense all the time.

    2. I don't think his being high is a mittigating factor anymore than someone robbing and shooting someone while tweaking is a mitigating factor.

    3. Not only did the mom value her freedom more than her daughter's life, she valued the freedom of the man who caused her daughter's life-threatening injuries more than her daughter's life.

    She willfully denied her daughter life-saving medical care. She didn't "fail" to get her medical care. It's not like she intended to take the little girl to the hospital, but the car wouldn't start and she couldn't get to the phone to call an ambulance, or that she didn't realize the little girl was injured in the first place.

    Even the doctors commented that it was the denial of care that caused the girl's death. The kick to the head alone wasn't necessarily fatal. Both people refused to seek medical care for the little girl, therefore I would consider them equally guilty.

    4. What is your definition of justice if imprisoning two people for injuring and willfully allowing a child to die and then decapitating her and hiding the body isn't justice?

    It's certainly justice for those 2. Will it bring closure to any remaining family members of the little girl? Of course not. But justice and closure are two separate things. What's the alternative?

    And what were the nature of the outstanding warrants that risking getting caught for murder was preferable? That's the one that really baffles me.

    People are fucking stupid. Have you ever seen a show called The First 48? It's amazing how many times people will choose to murder someone to cover up the commission of a crime that maybe would've landed them in the klink for a year or two at most. They're worried about being caught for the lesser crime, but always assume that they'll magically get away with murder. Idiots.

  7. How about we just cut her uterus out with pinking shears so she doesn't do it again? Save the cost of imprisoning her....