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First parole hearing for elderly Utah killer set for 2017

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8 2012 1:06 p.m. MST

Evelyn Christine Johnson, 76, is serving a sentence of one to 15 years in prison for the 2004 slaying of her estranged husband. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has scheduled her first parole hearing for May 2017. (Utah Dept. of Corrections) Evelyn Christine Johnson, 76, is serving a sentence of one to 15 years in prison for the 2004 slaying of her estranged husband. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has scheduled her first parole hearing for May 2017. (Utah Dept. of Corrections)

UTAH STATE PRISON — Evelyn Christine Johnson was 75 years old when she was sentenced in February to serve up to 15 years in prison for killing her estranged husband.

She will be 81 before she gets her first chance at parole.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has scheduled Johnson's initial hearing for May 2017. The date was set based on an administrative review of Johnson's file, "which we do in all death cases," said parole board spokesman Jim Hatch.

On Aug. 24, 2004, Johnson drove to the Uintah County trailer park where her estranged husband was living. She had been served with divorce papers one day earlier.

Alan Lavoy Johnson, 71, invited his wife into his camp trailer and served her coffee, according to Uintah County sheriff's detectives.

But as the couple sat and talked about what would be their second divorce from one another, Evelyn Johnson pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and shot her husband at least five times.

Evelyn Christine Johnson, 75, leans on her cane as she is sentenced Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, to one to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband, Alan Lavoy Johnson, in August 2004. She was initially charged with murder, a first-degree felony, but pleaded guilty in December 2011 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony. (Geoff Liesik, Deseret News) Evelyn Christine Johnson, 75, leans on her cane as she is sentenced Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, to one to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband, Alan Lavoy Johnson, in August 2004. She was initially charged with murder, a first-degree felony, but pleaded guilty in December 2011 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony. (Geoff Liesik, Deseret News)

"He said, 'No! No! Don't do that!'" Uintah County Attorney G. Mark Thomas told a judge during Johnson's sentencing hearing, reading from a statement she made to investigators immediately after the shooting.

"He stood up, and she continued to shoot him," Thomas said.

The prosecutor noted that one of the shots struck Alan Johnson behind one of his ears.

Evelyn Johnson was initially charged with murder, a first-degree felony. After six years of questions about her mental competency — and at least two commitments to the Utah State Hospital — she pleaded guilty in December 2011 to an amended charged of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

Johnson maintains that her husband had physically abused her and other family members. She had filed for a protective order against him one week before the shooting, and her daughter also claimed that Alan Johnson had abused her mother throughout their 20 years of marriage.

Evelyn Christine Johnson, 75, speaks Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, before being sentenced to serve one to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband, Alan Lavoy Johnson, in August 2004. She was initially charged with murder, a first-degree felony, but pleaded guilty in December 2011 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony. (Geoff Liesik, Deseret News) Evelyn Christine Johnson, 75, speaks Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, before being sentenced to serve one to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting her husband, Alan Lavoy Johnson, in August 2004. She was initially charged with murder, a first-degree felony, but pleaded guilty in December 2011 to manslaughter, a second-degree felony. (Geoff Liesik, Deseret News)

There were no reports of domestic violence to police.

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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