Thursday, November 02, 2000

Coroner: Gun was pressed to skull

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The .357-Magnum revolver that ended Jamie Johnson's life was pressed against his skull when it was fired three times, a coroner said Wednesday as the capital murder trial of Jeffrey Bornhoeft continued in Warren County.

        Defense lawyers will present evidence in their case today in an attempt to prove that Mr. Bornhoeft was insane when he shot Mr. Johnson, 23.

        Prosecutors have portrayed Mr. Bornhoeft as a man who was so obsessed with his ex-wife, Shawn Johnson, he broke into her Georgetown Drive apartment in Lebanon on April 7 and shot her new husband to death while he slept. Mr. Bornhoeft then held police at bay for three hours, threaten ing to commit suicide.

        On Wednesday, Mr. Bornhoeft's co-workers at Bridgestone Firestone shop, Forest Park, told jurors Mr. Bornhoeft, who worked as a mechanic there, talked about his ex-wife occasionally and said he was going to buy a gun a month before the slaying.

        Sharonville arms dealer Harold “Robert'' Peterson said Mr. Bornhoeft was denied FBI approval to buy a .357-Magnum on March 5. He said the agency did not disclose the reason. Authorities have not said where Mr. Bornhoeft acquired the gun used to kill Mr. Johnson.

        Mr. Bornhoeft, 31, faces the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder and burglary. Prosecutors must get a conviction on the burglary charge and must prove that Mr. Bornhoeft planned the killing before a jury can consider the death sentence.

        Mr. Bornhoeft's lawyers claim their client is suffering from depression, schizophrenia and paranoia and was not responsible for what he did. They dispute that he broke into Mrs. Johnson's apartment, saying the door was unlocked.

        Defense attorney John Quinn said earlier that Mr. Bornhoeft went to Mrs. Johnson's apartment to return some pictures because he knew his wife was moving to a house with their three children and Mr. Johnson.

        He said Mr. Bornhoeft snapped when he found Mr. Johnson asleep in his ex-wife's bed because the Johnsons had hidden their five-week marriage from him.


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