Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Jury to hear death penalty case


Mason man accused of killing ex-wife's husband

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Jury selection is expected to wrap up today in the capital murder trial of a Mason father of three charged in the slaying of his ex-wife's husband.

        Jeffrey Bornhoeft, 31, faces the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder in the April 7 shooting of James Johnson, 23, a construction worker.

        If convicted, Mr. Bornhoeft could be the second Warren County defendant to receive the death penalty since 1907. Jurors last recommended death in 1998 for James Hanna, who killed his cellmate at Lebanon Correctional Institution.

        The county has sought the death penalty unsuccessfully in six other cases since 1985.

        Although a judge ruled that Mr. Bornhoeft is competent to stand trial, Mr. Bornhoeft has raised the insanity plea as his defense.

        Police arrested Mr. Bornhoeft after a three-hour standoff outside the Georgetown Drive apartment Mr. Johnson shared with Mr. Bornhoeft's ex-wife, Shawn Johnson, and her three children from her marriage to Mr. Bornhoeft.

        Mr. Bornhoeft surrendered after negotiators with the Warren County Tactical Response Team persuaded him to hand over the revolver he had pressed against his head, threatening to kill himself.

        Inside, Mr. Johnson lay dead in bed from a bullet wound to the back of his head. Authorities said he apparently was killed while sleeping.

        Lebanon police arrived at the American Village Apartments after receiving a 911 call from Mrs. Johnson's co-workers. They reported that Mrs. Johnson was in hysterics because her ex-husband had phoned and said someone was shot at her apartment.

        Mr. Bornhoeft and his ex-wife, who previously lived in Loudon County, Tenn., had a history of clashes involving guns as their marriage broke up, according to court records.

        In 1998, a judge ordered Mr. Bornhoeft to undergo counseling after he was found guilty of assault for holding his wife at gunpoint.

        Mr. Bornhoeft's lawyers said he has suffered bouts with emotional problems since the breakup with his wife in 1998.

        Last month, a psychologist who evaluated Mr. Bornhoeft for competency said he exhibited symptoms of paranoia, depression, schizophrenia and other mental problems.

        Warren County jail officials said Mr. Bornhoeft twice has attempted to kill himself while incarcerated.

       



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