A Ramsey County grand jury indicted Steven R. Johnson Tuesday with premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder in the fatal shooting of his wife.
Johnson, 35, was ready to plead guilty in early February to his original charge of second-degree murder when the Ramsey County attorney’s office decided to present the case to a grand jury.
According to charges: Johnson fatally shot his wife, Manya J. Johnson, 32, in their St. Paul home on Jan. 6 when she said she was leaving him and taking their toddler son.
Johnson told police he had been drinking. He allegedly used a saw to dismember his wife’s body in the shower. He placed her body in several plastic bins and stored them in a friend’s White Bear Lake garage, according to charges.
Manya Johnson’s co-workers grew concerned when she didn’t show up for work the next day in marketing operations for Target Corp. A co-worker searched for her with Johnson, who played along until confronted by police at the couple’s home that afternoon.
Johnson’s friend in White Bear Lake alerted local police, who contacted St. Paul police about the remains in the garage.
Johnson was convicted in 1996 in Anoka County of aiding and abetting criminal sexual conduct. Court documents show that he was the aggressor in the attack and rape of a woman, and that he had chemical abuse problems and was “defective in his capacity for empathy.”
Johnson was released in February 2008, and was living with Manya a few years later in St. Paul’s Como neighborhood.