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Thread: David Leon Johnson Sentenced to LWOP in 2015 PA Slaying of Allison Vaughn

  1. #1
    Senior Member CnCP Addict CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    David Leon Johnson Sentenced to LWOP in 2015 PA Slaying of Allison Vaughn


    Allison Vaughn


    David Leon Johnson


    Death Penalty Sought in Pennsylvania Stabbing Death of Girlfriend


    Prosecutors have announced that they will seek the death penalty against a man charged in the stabbing death of his girlfriend in western Pennsylvania earlier this year.

    The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that Cambria County prosecutors filed notice of aggravating circumstances against 36-year-old David Leon Johnson.

    They allege that he stabbed 30-year-old Allison Vaughn in the neck three times and strangled her March 30 in Richland Township after she refused to allow him to withdraw money from her bank account to buy drugs.

    District Attorney Kelly Callihan cited felony robbery and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges as justifying capital punishment if Johnson is convicted of first-degree murder.

    Callihan last month sought additional time for the decision over the protests of defense attorneys, citing a need to retest DNA.

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...313767981.html

  2. #2
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Homicide trial rescheduled; Richland Twp. man faces October date in girlfriend’s death

    By Jocelyn Brumbaugh
    The Tribune-Democrat

    EBENSBURG — The jury trial for a Richland Township man charged with the murder of his girlfriend has been rescheduled for October.

    David Leon Johnson, 37, was accused of strangling and stabbing 30-year-old Allison Vaughn in their Parkside Drive home last March after police say she refused to allow him to withdraw money from her bank account to purchase drugs.

    About a year ago, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan filed intent to seek the death penalty in Johnson’s case, identifying two aggravating circumstances: homicide while committing another felony and homicide by means of torture.

    Callihan said Johnson had sex with Vaughn after she was dead, cause for a felony charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and stole her bank card after the murder to withdraw money to buy crack cocaine, cause for a felony robbery charge.

    Police said Vaughn was stabbed three times in the neck and her body was discovered face-down on the living room floor, covered with a blanket, with duct tape covering her mouth. Based on autopsy results, Vaughn died of massive and sudden blood loss from three stab wounds to her neck.

    Jury selection was originally scheduled for May 9, but was postponed until Aug. 8 as additional evidence and experts conducted investigations on behalf of prosecutors and Johnson’s attorneys, public defenders Michael Filia and Patricia Moore.

    During a status conference Tuesday morning, Judge Patrick Kiniry rescheduled jury selection for Oct. 10 with trial to follow.

    Kiniry also scheduled deadlines for Callihan to submit additional evidence involving cell phone records and a computer to the defense by July 7.

    Moore and Filia are required to file pre-trial motions by July 15 and arguments regarding those motions have been scheduled for Aug. 8, after which jury questionnaires will be mailed out.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/homicide...51a9400a4.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
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    - Rev. Richard Hawke

  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    November 17, 2016

    Jury selection delayed for Richland man’s murder trial

    EBENSBURG – The jury trial for a Richland Township man charged with the murder of his girlfriend has been postponed again, this time until March, as attorneys on both sides of the case prepare.

    David Leon Johnson, 37, is accused of strangling and stabbing 30-year-old Allison Vaughn in their Parkside Drive home in March 2015. after police said she refused to allow him to withdraw money from her bank account to purchase drugs.

    Police said Vaughn was stabbed three times in the neck and her body was discovered face-down on the living room floor, covered with a blanket, with duct tape over her mouth.

    An autopsy showed Vaughn died of massive and sudden blood loss from three stab wounds to her neck.

    In July 2015, Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in Johnson’s case, based on the allegations that he had sex with Vaughn after she was deceased and eventually stole her bank card after the murder to withdraw money to buy crack cocaine.

    Following Wednesday’s status conference involving Judge Patrick Kiniry, Callihan, chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Lilly and defense lawyers Michael Filia and Patricia Moore, both assistant public defenders, the jury selection for Johnson’s trial was rescheduled to March 2.

    Jury selection had been scheduled for May 9 of this year, but was postponed until Aug. 8 as additional evidence and experts conducted investigations on both sides of the case. The trial date then was changed to October, after which Filia and Moore sought more time to collect additional information.

    The attorneys now are working to tweak the questionnaire that will be mailed to potential jurors. Prosecutors and defense attorneys continue to provide each other with evidence as it becomes available and are working to confirm witnesses to testify at trial.

    Johnson is next scheduled to appear in Cambria County court on Jan. 3 for another status conference

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/jury-sel...8cc7d3932.html
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    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Death penalty case now scheduled for nonjury trial

    A jury trial scheduled to begin next week for a Richland Township man charged with the 2015 murder of his girlfriend has been called off.

    Instead, the case will be presented during a nonjury trial before Judge Patrick Kiniry beginning March 9.

    "Whether we're presenting to a jury or a judge, our case doesn't change," Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said.

    David Leon Johnson, 37, is accused of strangling and stabbing 30-year-old Allison Vaughn in their Parkside Drive home in March 2015 after, police said, she refused to allow him to withdraw money from her bank account to purchase drugs.

    An autopsy showed Vaughn died of massive and sudden blood loss from three stab wounds to her neck. Police said they discovered her body face-down on the living room floor, covered with a blanket, with duct tape over her mouth.

    In July of the same year, Callihan filed notice to seek the death penalty in Johnson's case based on allegations that he had sex with Vaughn after she was deceased and eventually stole her bank card to withdraw money to buy crack cocaine.

    This is the first case since Callihan took office in 2010 in which she has sought the death penalty.

    Callihan said assistant public defenders Patricia Moore and Michael Filia first requested a non-jury trial in August. That requires consent from the Commonwealth.

    In capital cases, jurors are typically sequestered and housed in hotels to prevent outside influences. Callihan said agreeing to a non-jury trial will save the county the cost of paying jurors and housing them.

    "I'm always trying to be protective of our budget," she said, especially considering six other homicide cases on the court docket for the remainder of 2017.

    Johnson faces more than 20 charges including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, theft, fraud and robbery.

    Callihan said she and chief deputy district attorney Scott Lilly plan to call 25 witnesses to support their case.

    The trial will proceed just as a jury trial would, only Kiniry will decide and deliver the verdict. If he convicts Johnson, Kiniry will then be responsible for determining his sentence, with the death penalty still on the table.

    Callihan said Vaughn's parents and other family members will testify as witnesses if Johnson is convicted and his case reaches the penalty phase.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/death-pe...1a6ef5bf3.html
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    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Accused pleads not guilty as non-jury trial begins in fatal Richland Township stabbing case

    David Leon Johnson formally entered a plea of not guilty Thursday morning as his non-jury trial began in the fatal stabbing and strangling of his girlfriend in March 2015.

    Johnson, 37, of Richland Township, entered the plea before Judge Patrick Kiniry prior to opening arguments from prosecutors and his defense attorneys, assistant public defenders Patricia Moore and Michael Filia.

    Johnson faces more than 20 charges including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, theft, fraud and robbery related to the death of 30-year-old Allison Vaughn on March 30, 2015 in a Parkside Drive home.

    More than 40 of Vaughn's family members and friends attended Thursday's proceedings.

    Police photos and testimony from Richland Township police officers presented Thursday showed Vaughn's body face-down on the home's living room floor, covered with blankets.

    Detectives said they determined Vaughn's death occurred after she refused to allow Johnson to withdraw money from her bank account to purchase crack cocaine.

    An autopsy showed Vaughn died of massive and sudden blood loss from three stab wounds to her neck.

    During opening arguments, chief deputy district attorney Scott Lilly said Vaughn's murder was intentional and planned by Johnson. After receiving Vaughn's ATM pin number, Lilly said Johnson still proceeded to kill her in a brutal manner.

    Following Vaughn's murder, Lilly said Johnson exhibited enough control and awareness to drive her vehicle to the ATM to withdraw cash, purchase drugs and eventually turn himself in.

    Filia said the case against Johnson is not a matter of "who done it," but about proving whether Vaughn's murder was deliberate.

    Johnson spent most of the day prior to Vaughn's death consuming drugs and wine, according to Filia. Those activities "diminished his capacity" and self-control during the incidents leading to the murder.

    Lilly said Johnson's actions were deserving of convictions for both first- and second-degree homicide counts.

    "This case is 100 percent not about crack cocaine, it is 100 percent not about wine," Lilly said. "It is about David Johnson murdering Allison Vaughn."

    Richland Township police testified that Johnson appeared at their station around 3 a.m. March 31, 2015, telling one officer "I just killed my girlfriend," and, upon further questioning, saying that he did so while he was "high on crack."

    Trooper Matthew Pergar, with the Pennsylvania State Police forensic services unit, took the stand to describe photographs of how the scene appeared upon his arrival, along with a crime scene sketch he created.

    Those photos displayed what appeared to be a knife blade protruding from Vaughn's neck, two broken knife blades and a cord showing dried blood in the sink, blood stains on the kitchen floor and a roll and one strip of duct tape on an end table next to Vaughn's body.

    During cross-examination by Moore, Pergar also pointed out two empty wine bottles on the living room coffee table and a wine corkscrew containing a cork in the sink, along with a glass smoking device, potential drug residue and other drug paraphernalia next to the kitchen sink.

    Cambria District Attorney Kelly Callihan has filed notice to seek the death penalty in Johnson's case based on allegations that he had sex with Vaughn after she was deceased and stole her bank card to withdraw money to purchase drugs.

    This is the first case since Callihan took office in 2010 in which she has sought the death penalty.

    Callihan's office consented to defense counsel's request for a non-jury last month.

    The trial will proceed just as a jury trial would, except that Kiniry will decide and deliver the verdict. If he convicts Johnson, Kiniry will then be responsible for determining a sentence, with the death penalty still on the table.

    Callihan said Vaughn's parents and other family members will testify as witnesses if Johnson is convicted and his case reaches the penalty phase.

    The trial is expected to continue into next week.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/accused-...c68f56cb2.html
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  6. #6
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Richland Township killing trial: Judge denies request to drop first-degree murder charge

    By Jocelyn Brumbaugh
    TribDem.com

    EBENSBURG – During the fourth day of a nonjury trial for a Johnstown man charged for the 2015 fatal stabbing of 30-year-old Allison Vaughn, defense attorneys made arguments that prosecutors had not presented sufficient evidence to support a first-degree murder charge and torture as cause for seeking the death penalty.

    After a debate between defense and prosecution attorneys, the judge denied the request for dismissal of the first-degree murder charge against David Leon Johnson.

    Johnson, 37, is facing more than 20 charges – including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, theft, fraud and robbery – for Vaughn’s death, which occurred on March 30, 2015 in their Parkside Drive apartment.

    Police said they found Vaughn face-down on the floor of the home, covered in blankets, and later discovered three stab wounds to her neck and duct tape over her mouth.

    In a statement to Richland Township police officers played last week, Johnson was heard saying he planned to scare Vaughn into giving him her bank pin number so he could go get more money to purchase drugs. He then used duct tape on her hands and mouth to prevent her from leaving the house or telling police.

    Police said they were able to confirm that Johnson purchased crack cocaine on two occasions prior to the murder and made attempts two times after her death to purchase more.

    On Tuesday, a representative from 1st Summit Bank confirmed nine transactions at the bank’s ATM at the Ideal Market on Bedford Street, along with surveillance camera footage from that machine.

    Johnson was also heard in an audio recording of a second interview telling police he had sexually assaulted Vaughn after she was deceased.

    The Commonwealth rested Tuesday after calling 21 witnesses to the stand.

    First-degree debate

    Prior to calling any witnesses, assistant public defenders Patricia Moore and Michael Filia asked Judge Patrick Kiniry to dismiss the first-degree murder charge, along with torture as cause for seeking the death penalty.

    Moore said District Attorney Kelly Callihan and Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Lilly “cannot pick and choose parts that they like of (Johnson’s) confession.”

    Moore said prosecutors “ignored the most telling parts” of Johnson’s statements to police, including the multiple times he told officers that his intentions were not to hurt, but to scare Vaughn. Johnson also mentioned several times that he was high on crack cocaine at the time of the murder and was focused on obtaining money to purchase more drugs, Moore said.

    Prosecutors “failed to meet the burden of the premeditated, intentional killing of Miss Vaughn,” Moore said.

    “The defendant had a plan that night and that plan was to rob Miss Vaughn by any means necessary,” Lilly rebutted.

    The law required to charge someone with first-degree murder involves the use of a weapon to vital parts of the body, Lilly argued, and all three stab wounds found on Vaughn’s neck met those requirements.

    “He intended to kill her,” he said.

    After taking this issue under advisement, Kiniry denied the dismissal of the first-degree murder charge.

    Evidence challenged

    Based on testimony presented by the Commonwealth, Moore also said there was no evidence to support the claims of torture.

    Although listed in Callihan’s notice to seek the death penalty, there was no testimony to prove Vaughn had been strangled, choked or stepped on by Johnson, Moore said.

    Although an electric cord found in the home’s kitchen sink contained Vaughn’s blood, as testified to by a state police crime lab scientist, no testimony proved that it had been used to strangle Vaughn, Moore said.

    Case law, however, states that the Commonwealth has no burden to prove the elements of torture until a verdict of first-degree murder is rendered, Lilly said.

    Kiniry agreed with this argument and said the request for dismissal of torture as grounds to seek the death penalty was premature.

    The defense’s second witness – the first of whom was called Monday due to a scheduling conflict – was Dr. Eric Vey, a forensic pathologist from northwestern Pennsylvania.

    Vey, who reviewed numerous documents and photos of the crime scene and Vaughn’s autopsy, testified that there was no evidence of strangling or choking in the case.

    Although Johnson told police he pulled a computer cord tight around Vaughn’s neck until she stopped moving, Vey said there were no signs of strangulation marks on any photos from Vaughn’s autopsy.

    Vey also said there was no evidence documented to support a claim by prosecutors that Johnson had stepped on Vaughn’s back, causing bruising to her heart.

    Vey concluded that the first stab wound inflicted on Vaughn was the one that perforated her left carotid artery and caused her to die of massive and sudden blood loss. When considering the blood volume for a person of her height and weight, Vey testified that Vaughn likely died from that injury within 4 minutes, preceded by a period of unconsciousness.

    Closing arguments

    The trial is expected to wrap up Wednesday, although a rebuttal witness for the Commonwealth who is coming from Scranton may delayed due to Winter Storm Stella.

    Following that witness, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be prepared to make closing arguments.

    Kiniry will then deliberate before delivering a verdict. If that verdict is first-degree murder, prosecutors will present evidence to support their intent to seek the death penalty.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/judge-de...0c64fae18.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Fact's Avatar
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    He was convicted and the prosecution decided to drop the death penalty after speaking with the Allison Vaughn's family. Sentenced to life plus 10-20 years.

    This is the right call in my opinion. After reading the basic facts of this case, I think it's a very weak case for death. If I was a juror, I don't think I would be able to sentence him to death.

    Just some basic facts:

    Aggravating circumstances:
    1. Robbery/felony murder aggravator, which in my opinion is the weakest of all the aggravating circumstances in any death penalty statute.
    2. Extremely arguable case for rape/sexual assault.
    3. The torture aggravator that the judge likely would have thrown out before the penalty phase even started

    Mitigating circumstances:
    1. Obviously was an addict who needed help and was likely substantially impaired at the time of the murder.
    2. Did not attempt to flee, escape, or hide evidence. Called 911, admitted what he did, subsequently offered a full confession.

    What this guy did was horrible, but I think this is just barely a first degree murder case, let alone a death penalty case.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/johnstow...9b2fdc302.html

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    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
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    March 17, 2017

    Johnstown man sentenced to life without parole, plus 10-20 years in fatal stabbing of girlfriend

    EBENSBURG — A Johnstown man found guilty of first- and second-degree murder Wednesday was sentenced to life without parole, plus 10 to 20 years in state prison Thursday morning by Cambria County Judge Patrick Kiniry.

    David Leon Johnson, 37, was charged with fatally stabbing his girlfriend, 30-year-old Allison Vaughn, on March 30, 2015, in their Parkside Drive apartment.

    Aside from the murder charges, Johnson was also convicted of aggravated assault, robbery, theft, access device fraud and abuse of a corpse.

    Testimony and Johnson's confession to Richland Township police played during a five-day, nonjury trial revealed that Johnson threatened Vaughn with a knife to get her ATM pin number, which he used to withdraw $400 for crack cocaine.

    After obtaining that pin number, Johnson was heard telling police he began to duct tape Vaughn so she would not leave the home or call police. A struggle then took place, when Johnson said he stabbed Vaughn three times in the neck.

    Expert testimony showed that the first of those three stab wounds was fatal and caused the massive blood loss, leading to Vaughn's death.

    Police said they found Vaughn facedown on the floor of the home, covered in blankets with duct tape over her mouth.

    In a second interview with police, Johnson admitted to performing a sexual act on Vaughn after she was deceased.

    Prosecutors forgo death penalty

    Prior to sentencing Thursday, District Attorney Kelly Callihan announced that, after speaking with Vaughn's family, she had decided to withdraw her intent to seek the death penalty in Johnson's case.

    "We predicted we weren't going to be successful in the death penalty phase," Callihan said, adding that Vaughn's family were satisfied with the decision following the stress of the trial.

    On Wednesday, Kiniry ruled in favor of Johnson's attorneys, assistant public defenders Patricia Moore and Michael Filia, to exclude torture as one of the aggravated circumstances Callihan originally filed as grounds to seek the death penalty.

    Because Kiniry found Johnson not guilty of attempted kidnapping, prosecutors only had one aggravating circumstances remaining: homicide while committing robbery.

    Following this announcement, Johnson was permitted to issue a statement, which his attorneys said was first written to Vaughn's family immediately following her death, but held at their request until sentencing.

    Within that letter, which Johnson read aloud, he apologized and called Vaughn the love of his life.

    "I take full responsiblity for my actions in this matter," he said. "I never once claimed to be innocent."

    Johnson said he thought about ending his life after killing Vaughn, but felt it would have been the easy or cowardly thing to do and decided he should be punished for what he had done.

    Moore said that in every meeting with Johnson, he had expressed remorse for his actions.

    In a report submitted to the court for future classification and treatment options for Johnson in state prison, Johnson's history of depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder was outlined.

    According to Moore, Johnson witnessed the murder of his mother, a crack cocaine addict and dealer in Detroit, Michigan, when he was 8 years old. Johnson's grandparents later put him out on the street at age 13, when he began using controlled substances.

    Vaughn's family speaks

    Both Callihan and Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Lilly said they were pleased with Kiniry's decision to convict Johnson of both first- and second-degree murder, which guaranteed a sentence of life without parole.

    "The big relief for us was to be able to deliver that to the parents," Callihan said. "From day one, that's what the family wanted."

    Prior to sentencing, friends and family of Vaughn were given the opportunity to speak.

    Lindsey Moore, a co-worker of Vaughn's who was the last to see her the night of her murder, recalled bringing coffee to work the next day for the two of them. Then she heard the news.

    "My world just crumbled," Moore said.

    "There will always be a missing piece of our puzzle."

    Richland Township police Detective Tom Keirn testified on the behalf of Vaughn's parents.

    As the lead on the case against Johnson, Keirn said Vaughn's death had an impact on him and recalled the day he had to catch Vaughn's father, James "Butchie" Vaughn, when his knees buckled following the news that Vaughn had been sexually assaulted after her death.

    "(Allison's) impact on the Johnstown community was enormous," he said.

    As Vaughn's aunt, April Winfree-Daniels, took the stand to give her statement, the rest of Vaughn's family and friends stood and silently joined hands.

    Winfree-Daniels looked at Johnson and told him his actions rattled the community in which Vaughn lived, bewildered the spirits of her friends and broke the hearts of her family.

    "(Allison) did not know she was spending her precious time with her grim reeper — a pathetic, weak-minded monster — which you are," she said.

    Following sentencing, Kiniry called the case an example of drugs as a scourge on society.

    "How do we solve this problem?" Kiniry asked Johnson.

    "How do we stop people like you from taking the lives of people like Allison?"

    Kiniry encouraged Johnson to spend his time in prison in a positive way — speaking to young men with similar backgrounds and preventing similar situations.

    Kiniry then ordered that Johnson's assignment to a state facility be postponed for 30 days so any appeal issues can be discussed with his attorneys.

    http://www.tribdem.com/news/watch-vi...9b2fdc302.html

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