Monday, December 25, 2000

Man, 42, pleads guilty to sister's murder

The Associated Press

        AKRON — A Cuyahoga Falls man who successfully appealed his 1991 conviction for killing his sister has pleaded guilty to the crime.

        Michael Johnson, 42, pleaded guilty last week to murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life. He avoided the death sentence when he appealed his initial conviction.

        Mr. Johnson killed Susan Brunst, 36, a mother of two, on June 2, 1990, and dumped her nude body in a patch of woods in Portage County.

        When Ms. Brunst's remains were uncovered almost a month later, they were too decomposed for investigators to determine a cause of death. Her death was ruled a “violent homicide.”

        Ms. Brunst had told family members Mr. Johnson tried to rape her six months earlier, which angered Mr. Johnson. Family members said he also was angry that she told his new female love interest about his 1984 second-degree murder conviction in Florida.

        A new trial was ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled the trial judge allowed prosecutors to use inadmissible evidence and statements against Mr. Johnson.

        They also ruled it was improper to sentence Mr. Johnson to death because local authorities used his murder conviction in Florida as the basis of obtaining the capital indictment and verdict.


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