Steven R. Johnson, who confessed to killing and then dismembering his wife in their St. Paul home on Jan. 6 after she said she was leaving him and taking their 18-month-old son, is likely to plead guilty Friday.
Johnson, 35, is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing in Ramsey County District Court. A grand jury indicted him last month on charges of premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder in the death of Manya Johnson.
According to the complaint, Steven Johnson dismembered his wife’s body in the shower of the couple’s home in the 1400 block of Sheldon Street near Como Park. He then placed the 32-year-old woman’s body in plastic bins and stored them in a friend’s garage in White Bear Lake.
According to the charges, Johnson confessed, telling police he and his wife had argued that Sunday. He said he had been drinking and shot her in the head with a handgun.
The friend in whose garage Johnson put the bins was unaware of his actions, the complaint said, but Johnson later told him what he’d done. The friend alerted police.
The killing shocked neighbors and friends, who considered the Johnsons “the perfect couple” and good neighbors.
However, Anoka County court documents from his 1996 conviction for aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct describe a troubled teen who had chemical dependency issues. A psychologist diagnosed the 18-year-old as “particularly defective in his capacity for empathy” and as having “a pathological sexual adjustment that is not likely to be improved very much by the time he leaves prison.”
Johnson, who was sentenced to 17 years and two months, was released from prison in February 2008.
Staff writer Chao Xiong contributed to this report. Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039