At a preliminary hearing today in the austere Bedford County Courthouse, a case involving what Bedford County law enforcement officers called, “The worst case of domestic violence ever seen” became even more shocking. The behavior and words of the defendants were not only questionable, but their attorney drew double takes as well.
David Johnson, Jr. is accused of holding his wife hostage in their home for over two days while systematically beating her, repeatedly raping her using various objects, and chasing her in a vehicle. According to the victim, “I was not going to leave there unless I was in a body bag.” Part of the abuse occurred with their children present. Johnson’s mother, Mary Ann, came to the residence with his sister, Sheila Ann, who kept the victim from escaping, according to numerous interviews. “You have to hold her here until the marks don’t show,” Mary allegedly told her son, as the battered victim lay sobbing within feet of the two. The victim escaped, running for her life, and the Johnson’s were arrested twice – after stalking charges were pressed. All three are out on bond, despite David proving himself to be a dangerous individual, and mother and daughter have demonstrated to be manipulative and supportive of him (See also Here).
Today, when Honorable General Sessions Judge Charles Rich, of Bedford County, asked Mary Johnson if she has hired an attorney, Johnson replied, “I’m here on something I did not do.” Shelbyville attorney John ‘Snortin’ Norton stepped in to explain Sheila Johnson’s attorney was scheduled to represent Mary, but due to conflict of interest, Mary must seek new counsel, thus she needed more time to find an attorney. Judge Rich received a petition, signed by pingroof.com readers and those hoping these perpetrators be punished justly (source). Rich shared this copy with Norton. Norton was observed leafing through the document, glancing over the signatures and the comments.
Besides sharing their own stories of escaping violent marriages and relationships, some petition signers commented:
“I hope (the victim) can get on with her life and find that not all men are abusive.”
“Keep the mother safe but most importantly the innocent children need to be protected from this whole situation at all costs.”
Many signers wrote, “This (victim’s) family is in my prayers.”
Norton handed the documents to an attorney who sat next to him, who appeared to read over it. He then visibly chuckled, rolled his eyes in apparent disbelief and handed it back.
Later, outside on the courthouse stairs, Norton was overheard very clearly calling the petition, “Some G—damned petition, some electronic thing,” as he spoke to the Johnson’s (censored for media). Numerous persons were walking past them. “I saw it!” Someone in the Johnson party said, and laughed loudly.
Dressed in charcoal grey slacks, shirt, and tie, David Johnson was demur in the courtroom; outside he was animated. A female identified as his girlfriend accompanied him. She stood at the courthouse doorway and released a loud, echoing belch. He came rushing out of the courthouse to excitedly tell his mother and sister, “She didn’t even see me! She walked up to Crews!” Referring to the victim and Shelbyville police detective Brian Crews, who was in the courthouse at the time. He then reenacted a scenario, suggesting Crews feared Johnson. “He stood there, mean-mugging me,” Johnson told them, moving about. “I just glared back! I wonder why he’s here?” Mary told him, “He wouldn’t miss this for the world.” When he told them “she” went to the ladies restroom, Mary and Sheila hurried to the ladies facilities. “Stay out of trouble!” David’s girlfriend shouted to them. Later research determined Detective Crews was at the courthouse on an unrelated matter, and neither the victim, nor her family, were at the courthouse this date.
Dressed in solid black, Mary Ann Johnson told someone on the courthouse steps, “I’ve never been in trouble in my life before all this. I was at my preacher’s house when I was supposedly doing what they said I’d done. I stay at home and go to church. We were all accused of something we didn’t do.” Of her son, she says, “He was in trouble for minor things, when he was young.” She is angry over being bothered with it all. “In this country, you are guilty until proven innocent. I have learned that!”
Sheila wore a skin-tight, see-through white blouse over a tank top, dress slacks, and heels. She could cite the charges and bond information for DWI from memory. “DWI ain’t that big of a thing,” she said, looking over the Shelbyville city square from the courthouse steps. “This is a crooked county, crooked town,” she mused. She and her mother waxed philosophic how all police officers were “shady” and in collusion, and attorneys and judges were not far behind.
“John Norton is good. He’s expensive. It’s $3,500 up front and $350.00 an hour in court, depending on your charge, the county, and where you were arrested,” Mary and Sheila advise, “Stay in Shelbyville.”
Stay in a county, evidently, where domestic violence is a joke to a legal team, an offender can be re-released after nearly killing, then stalking, and a family that kidnaps and assaults together stays together.
The Johnson’s court date is scheduled for Oct. 26, 2012 at this time. Sign the petition HERE to give to the presiding Judge. Do not sign twice. You will not receive emails or spam for signing.
Tennessee Domestic Violence Helplines
My website & my book educates on warning signs of abusive relationships, purposely priced for everyone to afford
Credit: photo of Judith Yates