CHP officer found guilty of murdering her husband
California Highway Patrol officer Tomiekia Johnson was convicted Monday of murdering her husband more than two years ago.
As the verdict was read, Johnson collapsed and fell below the desk where she was sitting with her attorney. Her condition was unknown, but paramedics were called and a stretcher was brought to Judge Robert Perry's ninth-floor courtroom, which was cleared.
Outside the courtroom, Johnson's mother was sobbing and yelling, and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took position to keep the families of the victim and defendant separated.
The verdict comes after Johnson tearfully testified Friday that she and her husband, Marcus Lemons, were struggling over her gun when it accidentally went off the night of Feb. 21, 2009.
"I was not trying to kill Marcus. I would never try to hurt him," she said in court, weeping. "He always hit me."
Johnson and her husband were having drinks at a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant in Compton before they got into an argument, Johnson told the jury.
"When I continued to ignore him, he reached over and grabbed my neck," she told the jury.
She said she pulled off the 91 Freeway and told him to walk home. He "snatched" the keys out of the ignition, she said, and a struggle over her purse ensued.
"I think he wanted my purse for the gun in the purse," she said, trembling.
Prosecutors argued in court that the slaying was far from an accident. During the trial, witnesses portrayed Johnson as a wife with an aggressive personality and a tendency to drink excessively. Her husband was described as a peaceful man, a popular barber and a renowned amateur bowler.
Forensic evidence and testimony from crime-scene experts showed that Johnson fired an intentional contact shot, prosecutors said.
Lemons' family members, sitting in one corner of the courtroom, looked on as Johnson testified last week. Friends of the victim shook their heads, rolled their eyes and whispered to each other as Johnson answered questions about her tumultuous relationship with her husband.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Tomiekia Johnson and Marcus Lemons. Credit: Family photo / KTLA-TV