A St. Paul man who allegedly shot and dismembered his wife last month appeared in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday ready to "resolve" the case but will now have to wait.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi is presenting the case to a grand jury seeking first-degree murder charges. Steven R. Johnson is currently charged with second-degree murder and is being held on $2 million bail.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Yasmin Mullings said the court was aware last week that Johnson was prepared to plead guilty to his original charge. His case will be presented to a grand jury before Feb. 19.
Family members for Johnson and his wife, Manya J. Johnson, attended the hearing but declined to comment. Ramsey County attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said state law requires prosecutors to consult with victims' family members on important decisions but could not elaborate specifically on the Johnson case.
Gerhardstein also declined to say why the court wanted to pursue a grand jury indictment instead of accepting the plea, except that, generally, "The decision is made based upon the facts of the case and the applicable law."
Johnson fatally shot and dismembered Manya Johnson in their St. Paul home on Jan. 6 after she announced plans to leave him and take their 18-month-old son, according to court documents.
Johnson, 34, is accused of using a saw to dismember his wife's body in the couple's shower. He allegedly placed the 32-year-old's body in several plastic bins and stored them in a friend's garage in White Bear Lake.
According to the charges, Johnson confessed, telling police that he and his wife argued on Jan. 6. He said he had been drinking and that he shot her in the head with a handgun. He said he cleaned the house to hide evidence.
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 White Bear Lake police, who notified St. Paul police.
The killing shocked neighbors and friends, who considered the Johnsons "the perfect couple" and good neighbors.
Manya Johnson, who earned a bachelor's of science in psychology at Pacific Lutheran University and a master's in counseling psychology at Bethel University, worked in marketing operations for Target Corp., where she was considered witty, outgoing and hard-working.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib