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Johnson v. State

Supreme Court of Idaho

February 18, 2014

SARAH M. JOHNSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent

Page 492

2014 Opinion No. 21

Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. G. Richard Bevan, District Judge.

District court order dismissing petition for post-conviction relief and denying motion for new trial for first degree murder conviction, affirmed.

Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP, Boise, for appellant. Dennis Benjamin argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Jessica Lorello, Deputy Attorney General argued.

BURDICK, Chief Justice. Justices EISMANN, J. JONES, HORTON and SCHROEDER, pro tem, CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 493

[156 Idaho 9] BURDICK, Chief Justice

Sarah Johnson appealed from the district court's order dismissing her petition for post-conviction relief following convictions on two counts of first degree murder. We affirm the district court's order.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 2, 2003, Alan and Diane Johnson (the Johnsons) were shot and killed in their home. The Johnsons' sixteen-year-old daughter, Sarah Johnson (Johnson), was home at the time of the shooting. She consistently denied any involvement, but gave several different accounts of what she was doing, what she saw, and what she heard prior to and after the murders. Johnson variously stated that she was awoken by the first shot and fled immediately after, that she was awake and could hear arguing before any shots were fired, and that after hearing the first shot, she went to her parents' bedroom before fleeing at the sound of the second shot. After fleeing the house, she knocked on several neighbors' doors until one answered and the police were called. Johnson was ultimately charged with both murders and was represented by Robert Pangburn and Mark Rader.

Police found a leather glove from a pair usually kept in Diane Johnson's SUV, Johnson's keys including a key to the guesthouse, the magazine of a nine-millimeter handgun wrapped in a bandana, and two .264 caliber magnum shells in Johnson's bedroom. In a garbage can outside of the residence the police also found a latex glove, a leather glove matching the one found in Johnson's bedroom but for the opposite hand, and a pink robe covered in blood that belonged to Johnson and had .25 automatic pistol ammunition in the pocket. Testing revealed that Johnson's DNA was present inside of the latex glove and that paint chips found inside of the robe matched paint on the shirt Johnson was wearing the morning of the murders.

The murder weapon, a .264 rifle, belonged to Mel Speegle, who was renting the Johnsons' guesthouse, but was out of town at the time of the murders. Fingerprints located on the stock of the rifle, the scope from the rifle, and two boxes of .264 shells did not match Speegle's and were unidentified at the time ...


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