First to be Sentenced to Death by a Federal Court in 50 Years
On Tuesday, December 20, Angela Johnson
became the first woman in 50 years to be sentenced to death by a
U.S. Federal judge.
In May, Johnson, 41, was
found guilty of murdering five people including two children.
Throughout the trial, Johnson continued to proclaim her
innocence throughout the trial for the 1993 murders.
The death sentence was handed out by U.S. District Court Judge
Mark Bennett. Johnson received the death penalty on eight of the
charges, and was give life in prison on two other charges. Her
death will be administered by lethal injection.
Johnson claimed that she was intimidated by her then-boyfriend,
Dustin Honken, a drug dealer, and Johnson claims that he took
advantage of her addiction to drugs, forcing her to lure Terry
DeGeus, 32 into a setup that resulted in his death. Honken
murdered the five people in order to prevent two of them from
testifying against him, and has since been found guilty of
murder, and was sentenced to death in October.
The death sentence in this case did not come without
controversy, however. Judge Bennett expressed some concern that
the jurors were not completely clear on Johnsonís actual
involvement in the crime. However, family members of the victims
presented compelling evidence during the sentencing hearing, and
Bennett upheld the jurorsí decision.
Brenda Stone, one of DeGeusí sisters told the court, "We will
live in this hell until we die --- not until you die. You will
get your peace when you are laid to rest." His other sister,
Rhonda Francis called Johnson a disgrace to women everywhere.
Along with DeGeus, Honken murdered Greg Nicholson, 34, Lori
Duncan, 31, Kandi Duncan, 10, and Amber Duncan 6. Johnson led
investigators to their bodies in 2000.
Honken, who managed a drug trafficking operation, was convicted
of the murders earlier this year and was also sentenced to
In December 1953, Bonnie Brown Heady became the last woman to be
executed as the result of the decision of a federal court. Six
months earlier, Ethel Rosenberg was executed after she and her
husband were convicted of espionage.