A southern Minnesota man won dismissal of a murder charge and received a three-year term Monday on a lesser count for granting his ailing wife’s wish to die by throwing her a dayslong “death party” featuring meth and her favorite heavy metal music.
Duane A. Johnson, 59, of Searles, was sentenced in Brown County District Court after pleading guilty to criminal neglect in connection with the Jan. 24 death of Debra Johnson in their home about 6 miles south of New Ulm.
In exchange for his plea, Judge Robert Docherty dismissed a third-degree murder charge and a count of receiving stolen property.
The three-year sentence is a downward departure from state sentencing guidelines, which called for a four-year term. With credit for time in jail since his arrest, Johnson will serve roughly 19 months in prison and the balance of his three-year term on supervised release.
Debra Johnson, 69, died from an overdose of methamphetamine that her husband had given her, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.
She had been treated for various health problems at a transitional care center, but her husband defied medical advice and brought her home at her request for a five-day send-off that included the meth and her favorite heavy metal song, according to the charges.
A sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the home late that morning saw “Death Parde God Hell” spray-painted in red on the front screen door and was greeted by a naked Duane Johnson yelling that his wife was dead upstairs.
Duane Johnson told authorities the “death party” was her idea, and it began about five days earlier and included constant “rocking out” music, especially her favorite, “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot.