Murder suspect enters not guilty by mental disease plea - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Shawano Co. murder suspect enters not guilty by mental disease plea


For eight months 21-year-old Joshua Johnson has sat in the Shawano County jail.

In February, Johnson was charged with 1st degree intentional homicide after he admitted to killing his father, Donald Johnson, in their home.

Now, the court has ruled Johnson will not be criminally charged for the crime because of mental illness. A decision, Shawano County District Attorney Greg Parker says is not surprising.

"We all agree with what our experts have opined," Parker said.

During the court hearing, two experts testified that Johnson suffered from paranoid schizophrenia during the time of the murder. Johnson's defense attorney, Jared Redfield, said his client was hearing voices.

"He responded to those voices and was unable to appreciate his conduct or conform it," Redfield said.

Doctors called by both sides told the court Johnson did not know the difference between right and wrong.

"He does require counseling and other treatment regularly," Redfield said about his client.

But, family and friends of Donald Johnson say they still have concerns.

"Myself, his friends, and certainly his family are fearful that if he were to be released, that we could possibly see other offensive psychotic violence," Don Johnson's life-long friend Jeff Adams said.

Other family members, including Joshua Johnson's mother, declined an on-camera interview.

Now, court officials will review all the evidence to determine a sentence. Both attorneys will also give their recommendations.

"We will argue that Mr. Johnson must be placed in a mental institution," District Attorney Parker said. "And that institutional commitment be for the remainder of his life."

"The recommendation at this point seems that he is very capable, with proper treatment to be able to conform his conduct and be a good citizen in the community," Redfield said.

Johnson will be back in court on December 6th. That's when a judge will ultimately decide his fate.

Until then, Johnson remains in the Shawano County jail.


UPDATE - The Shawano County man accused of murdering his father entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease. During the plea hearing, both sides called two witnesses, both doctors, to the stand. They testified Johnson suffered from paranoid psycho schizophrenia.  They testified that Johnson told them he was hearing voices and getting messages from his television screen telling him to kill his father.

The court accepted his plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease.

A hearing will be held after the Health and Family Services Department reviews all medical records, statements and evidence to determine what his sentencing should be.

The district attorney recommends he be institutionalized for life. The defense attorney recommends he be institutionalized, treated and released.

The judge will hear both arguments and the findings of the Health and Family Services Department.

Johnson remains in the Shawano County Jail.


UPDATE October 24, 2012 Officials say the man accused of brutally killing his father in Shawano County has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

20-year old Joshua Johnson is accused of killing 53-year old Donald Johnson in February.

Johnson was supposed to start his jury trial next week.

But now prosecutors say the two sides have come to an agreement.

The plea hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Shawano County court.



February 23, 2012 - Dozens of emotional family members packed the Shawano County Courthouse as 20-year-old Joshua Johnson appeared in court for the first time.

"It is a very sad day. My client is emotionally distraught but he's indicated he is at peace and a huge burden has been lifted," Defense Attorney Jared Redfield said.

But, authorities are saying something different.

"Since I've been the District Attorney, this is the most gruesome murder that I have ever seen. Detectives who have been here for many years have expressed the same concern," Shawano County District Attorney Greg Parker said.

According to the criminal complaint, Joshua Johnson shot his father with a shotgun and continued to beat him with the butt of the gun.

"I believe, as I said in court, he is a threat to the community or to his individual safety," Parker said.

The document also says the suspect admitted to stabbing his father multiple times and beating him with a handle from a wood stove.  According to the complaint, the suspect called 9-1-1 saying, "the deed was done," and he had killed his father.

"There is a history of a very strained relationship between the two men, Josh and Donald," Redfield said.

Family members wouldn't comment, but Johnson's attorney did. Simply saying, family members are in shock.

"The family is distraught. This came out of the blue. They refer to him as a gentle giant, he is an absolutely calm, quiet person," Redfield explained.

During Johnson's court appearance, the judge ordered him to a $500,000 cash bond and no contact with any member of his father's family.

The defense attorney tells Newsline 9, Johnson plans to plead "not guilty" by mental defect.

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