ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Capital Murder trial of an inmate accused of killing a corrections officer at an Abilene prison began Monday with a bold claim – defense attorneys say the inmate and officer were having an affair for months prior to the murder.
Officer Marianne Johnson was found dead in a storage room in the kitchen of the French Robertson Unit in Abilene in July of 2016.
Inmate Dillion Gage Compton, a convicted child predator, was located at the scene and promptly arrested and charged with Capital Murder.
During opening statements, both prosecutors and defense attorneys had a similar version of events leading up to the murder.
Officer Johnson was on kitchen duty the night of July 16. She entered a storage area to get supplies and encountered Compton – an inmate both legal teams says was a “trustee”, one of the most trusted offenders at the facility, thus giving him extra freedom, such as access to the kitchen area and subsequent storage room.
Soon after encountering Compton, Johnson was found dead.
Another prison employee went to check on Johnson after realizing she was missing, and when this employee entered the storage room, Compton was still inside.
The prison employee made Compton leave, and Johnson’s body was initially overlooked because she had been moved out of sight from the doorway.
Upon further inspection, her body was found inside the room, handcuffed to a pole.
Prosecutors say there were obvious signs of struggle on her body, such as bruising and scratches. Her throat was also crushed, and her pants were pulled down and her breasts were exposed.
Compton’s DNA was found underneath her fingernails, prosecutors argue.
They claims DNA evidence and other information from the medical examiner reveals Johnson’s death was nothing but intentional.
However, Compton’s defense attorney’s paint a different picture of what happened. They say Compton and Johnson had been having a sexual relationship for 6 months prior to the murder, but Compton was feeling conflicted about it and wanted to get off kitchen duty because that’s where she worked.
The night of the murder, defense attorney’s believe Johnson and Compton were having consensual sex in the storage room when they heard someone coming, prompting Johnson to “freak out” over the possibility of being found and losing her job.
Johnson then, according to the defense, suffered cardiac arrest and died, and the bruising and other wuonds on her body were from Compton’s attempts to resuscitate her.
Defense attorneys plan to call multiple inmates to the stand who are expected to testify about the friendly nature of Compton’s and Johnson’s relationship.
Compton’s Capital Murder trial is expected to continue throughout the month of October. He faces the possibility of death if convicted, so the punishment phase of the trial could last for an additional 2-4 weeks.
KTAB and KRBC will provide periodic updates from court.
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