Defense: Stress caused Jeffrey Johnson to kill

Defense: Stress caused Jeffrey Johnson to kill

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 24 at 8:47 AM

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- A Washington County jury heard about the mental state of a Beaverton murder suspect from two psychologists Thursday.

It's week two in the trial of Jeffrey Johnson, who is accused of killing his daughter's ex-boyfriend.

Ryan Johnson, no relation to Jeffrey Johnson, was gunned down in broad daylight outside a Thriftway store on Farmington Road in Aloha in January of 2012.

The defense laid out its case this week and agrees Jeffrey Johnson is a killer, but that he's only guilty of manslaughter, not murder, due to his distressed mental state.

Defense attorneys said Jeffrey was under great mental strain and fearful for the safety of his grandson when he shot and killed Ryan Johnson.  Jeffrey's daughter had been fighting with Ryan Johnson over custody of their young son, when Jeffrey became frustrated with the court process, defense attorneys said.

Lawyers argued that built-up emotional and stress led Jeffrey to buy a gun and shoot Ryan Johnson six times, in the head, neck and arm.

To make his argument of "extreme emotional disturbance," defense attorney Stephen Houze cited shootings that occurred outside courthouses and how custody disputes can sometimes send people into a rage.

Houze then played an audio tape of a past custody hearing between the two young parents to make a case that the court was not protecting Jeffrey's grandson.

However, state prosecutors said that the shooting was a premeditated murder: planned weeks in advance and well-calculated.

A murder conviction would result in life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Under Measure 11, a manslaughter conviction would send Johnson to 10 years behind bars.

Background: Aloha man on trial for killing his grandson's dad

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