Alleged stalker of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson says he heard voices in his head
The alleged stalker of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson said in a taped interview played in court Thursday that he made the trip from Florida to Los Angeles after the voices in his head of Johnson and her friends "had me convinced we were married ... and she was pregnant."
Robert M. O'Ryan is on trial in L.A. Superior Court on charges that he stalked Johnson.
But he said on in a taped interview with L.A. detectives that he "never harmed anyone" but would use the guns, zip ties and electrical tape in his car to protect Johnson.
"She is a very important person ... and if I had opportunity to protect her I would," O'Ryan said in the interview.
O'Ryan said he first began hearing the voice of Johnson, whom he nicknamed Sturdy Girl, while watching the Beijing Olympics on TV.
O'Ryan told Det. Jose Viramontes he communicated with celebrities using telepathy. He told detectives he had children with both male and female celebrities.
"[President Obama] convinced me he knew me from another life," O'Ryan told the detective.
Johnson testified earlier that she was scared when she heard what O'Ryan had said about her.
Prosecutors allege O'Ryan made his way from the Jacksonville, Fla., area to try to meet Johnson, whom he had an "obsessive desire to marry,'' and that he would do anything possible to accomplish that goal.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Wendy Segall showed Johnson a series of weapons, including a shotgun and a large knife, recovered from O'Ryan's car after he was arrested when he jumped the fence last year at CBS Studios, where Johnson was taping the TV show "Dancing with the Stars."
After seeing the weapons and a series of photos that were in O'Ryan's possession, Johnson testified, "It made me feel really scared."
The gymnast said to this day she remains scared. Johnson, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said that after she heard about O'Ryan she immediately got a restraining order against him.
O'Ryan was arrested in March 2009 after the fence-hopping incident. He has pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to one felony count each of stalking and commercial burglary, along with two misdemeanor counts of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a city.
Johnson's entertainment manager, Sheryl Shade, testified that O'Ryan tried to get on the list that would allow him into the studio, and that Johnson was so terrified after learning about him, she had to move to a protected location.
Shade said Johnson was so scared that she slept in the same bed with Shade the night of O'Ryan's arrest, hired bodyguards and canceled her public appearances.
Deputy Public Defender Judith Greenberg told Judge Michael E. Pastot in opening statements that "there was no evidence that my client stalked Miss Johnson'' and no proof that he intended to harm the gymnast.
Greenberg told the judge that O'Ryan, who holds degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, experienced auditory hallucinations that compelled him to drive to Los Angeles to meet and protect Johnson. She noted that he never intended to use the two guns stored in his car in an "offensive manner."
On the tape of O'Ryan's interview with police, he told detectives he heard voices in his head not only of Johnson but of rappers Ludacris and Little John, TV personality Steve O and "Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron.
-- Richard Winton