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Published On: Sat, Jan 25th, 2014

Jeffrey Brian Johnson murder trial: Mental illness, self-incrimination slow case for Ryan Johnson’s murder

Two years ago Jeffrey Brian Johnson shot and killed his daughter’s former boyfriend, the father of his youngest grandson.

Defense attorneys don’t dispute the shooting, but the has been slowed again after details of Johnson turning the gun on himself afterwards were revealed.

jeffrey_brian_johnson“But he also felt a sense of relief,” Dr. Robert Stanulis told jurors in Washington County Circuit Court.

That was the last testimony the jury heard Friday before a long-anticipated legal wrinkle stopped the hearing in its tracks.

Jeffery Johnson, age 54, is charged with murder and unlawful use of a weapon in the Jan. 26, 2012, death of Ryan Lee Johnson, age 22. He shot the younger man six times in the back of the head, neck and arm outside of a Thriftway.

His daughter was filing for a restraining order and he bought the gun “to protect his family.”

Attorneys are battling over legal semantics because the defense contends Johnson was suffering of an extreme emotional disturbance stemming from fear for his daughter and grandson’s safety. They claim he is guilty of first-degree manslaughter, not murder.

Additionally, they are discussing Johnson’s legal rights against self-incrimination and the state’s right to study his mental condition in a case where the defense is largely built on a psychologist’s testimony.

The trial judge disagrees.

Jeffrey Johnson’s attorney, Stephen Houze, plans to seek recourse through a petition to the Oregon Supreme Court next week.

In January 2013, a state forensic psychologist examined Johnson at the Washington County Jail, where he remains in custody. But Houze limited the questions his client would answer, preventing Johnson from talking about his actions, thoughts or feelings in the six months leading up to the shooting.

The state’s doctor testified during pretrial hearings before Circuit Judge Thomas Kohl that he was so restricted in his questioning that he could not form an opinion about Jeffrey Johnson’s mental condition.

Kohl ruled that once the defense presents evidence of extreme emotional disturbance, the defendant also waives privilege against self-incrimination.

At that point, the state would be able to seek another evaluation of Johnson with unlimited questioning.

Houze petitioned the state Supreme Court in April, seeking to overturn Kohl’s ruling.

Jeffrey Johnson “will be irremediably and irreparably damaged if he is forced to testify against himself by participating in the psychological examination,” he states in the petition.

More details of the drama leading up to the shooting can be read HERE

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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