In Oct. 2016, Justin Johnson appeared before a judge in Los Angeles. At this point, Johnson already had five felony convictions; this time, he was in court because he’d been caught bringing contraband into a jail.
State law meant he could have faced more than 13-years behind bars, and although prosecutors offered him a plea deal that involved a four-year prison sentence, Johnson instead decided to beg for the judge’s mercy.
At the hearing, he explained to the judge that he was tired. Drugs had completely ruined his life, he said, and was asking for one more chance to get things right. He just met a nice woman, named Sarah, and he wanted a chance to get clean and turn his life around.
The judge was sympathetic, according to a report by the Press Telegram, and granted the man’s request. He sentenced Johnson to a one-year drug treatment program; if he failed, the man would go to jail for nine years. As long as he completed the program, and five years of probation, Johnson wouldn’t spend any time in jail.
He failed to complete the program and less than a month later, police found the body of his 36-year-old girlfriend.
Investigators say he strangled her and dumped her body near the LA River.
Johnson is now being held at the Twin Towers Jail on a no-bail hold.
Court documents show he has a lengthy criminal record. He was currently on parole, according to an LA County Deputy District Attorney. He’d also been convicted of 15 misdemeanors and five felonies—this is in addition to the probation and parole violations.
The victim’s parents say that Johnson never should have been granted clemency. “He shouldn’t have been let out,” they said.
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