Los Angeles, CA–I’m normally opposed to “Three Strikes” laws and mandatory minimums, given that they often:
1) Create ridiculously long sentence for nonviolent crimes. 2) Disproportionately target mostly low-income/minority men unable to finance quality legal services.
I also generally oppose efforts to make domestic violence laws more draconian because many innocent men get caught in the net. To learn about one example, see my co-authored column From a Felony to a Phone Call: Texas Prop 13 Will Allow Innocent Men to Be Jailed Without Bail (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Austin-American Statesman, 10/22/07).
Nonetheless, while the case below is an exception, it’s a horrific one–William Johnson was able to terrorize three ex-girlfriends, all of whom he shot, one of them fatally. It’s atypical but still a disgrace. The judge was absolutely correct in the case, both in labeling him a ‘Poster Child For Domestic Violence’ and in giving him a 60 years to life sentence. From ‘Poster Child For Domestic Violence’ Sentenced To 60 Years (KTVU, 12/5/08):
OAKLAND — William “Mookie” Johnson was sentenced in Oakland Friday to 60 years to life in state prison by a judge who called him “a poster child for domestic violence.” Johnson, 48, was convicted June 3 of attempted premeditated murder and other charges for shooting his ex-girlfriend outside her Oakland workplace last year shortly after she broke up with him and moved out of their house. Johnson has six prior felony convictions, including two for shooting previous girlfriends. The two ex-girlfriends testified against him in his current case, which stemmed from the shooting of 38-year-old Nicole Henderson outside the Oakland Parent-Teacher Children’s Center at East Ninth Street and 35th Avenue about 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2007. In addition to convicting Johnson of attempted premeditated murder, jurors, who deliberated for only two hours, convicted him of assault with a firearm, mayhem, domestic violence, making criminal threats and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In sentencing Johnson, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman said Johnson “has certainly not led an exemplary life” and “to go to a day care center and start firing a weapon is beyond comprehension.” Goodman said it’s lucky no one else was injured by the multiple shots that Johnson fired the day he shot Henderson.