Jury disregards “methamphetamine psychosis” defense,“ convicts man of burglary

Jerry Johnson

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Jerry Johnson, 47, was convicted of all charges related to a July burglary after a trial yesterday.

Johnson was charged with burglary, petit larceny, and destruction of property after his arrest at a Princeton home on July 10. A 15-year-old boy called 911 to report that a stranger had broken into his home. The boy testified that he barricaded himself in his bedroom with a firearm while Johnson, armed with an ice pick, went from room to room, calling “Where are you?”

The responding officer, Trooper K. A. Filer, says he found Johnson inside the home when he arrived and the glass on the front door was broken. Johnson was holding the ice pick in one hand and a can of Bud Light beer in the other. While being taken into custody, Johnson reportedly put the sharp tool in his pocket after being ordered to drop it, and said he entered the home to “kill his brother to stop him from killing any more people.”

Filer testified that Johnson behaved in an erratic manner and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Public Defender Stephanie Pfeifer called Eric Walls, M.A., a licensed psychologist, who examined Mr. Johnson. Walls acknowledged finding Johnson competent to stand trial and criminally responsible, but said Johnson would have had difficulty forming criminal intent due to “drug-induced psychosis”.

On cross-examination by Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler, Walls admitted that there were no drug screens indicating the presence or level of drugs in Johnson’s system and that Johnson’s statements in previous records were demonstrably false. Walls admitted that Johnson’s assertions about the incident were not corroborated by witnesses or 911 records, that Johnson failed to disclose his stated intent to kill someone when he entered the home, and that records included findings that Johnson had expressed intent to kill. When Walls claimed it was difficult to determine someone’s intent after the fact, Sitler replied: “That’s what juries are for.”

In her closing argument, Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Lynch noted the “Johnson understood and complied with Trooper Filer’s commands. He wasn’t so out of his mind that he couldn’t form the intent to commit a crime.”

Lynch asked the jury to consider Johnson’s stated intentions for entering the house and to disregard the assertion that he suffered from diminished capacity.

After deliberating for five minutes, the jury found Johnson guilty of the charges. The possible penalty is an indeterminate penitentiary sentence of 1-15 years, plus two one-year misdemeanor jail terms.

Sitler thanked Trooper Filer for his prompt response to the scene and praised the 15-year-old boy for his quick thinking and his courage in testifying.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 14th at 2 p.m.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com