Angela Johnson on Death Row




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Iowa Woman 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 Johnson�s actual involvement in the crime. However, family members of the victims presented compelling evidence during the sentencing hearing, and Bennett upheld the jurors� decision.

Brenda Stone, one of DeGeus� 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 death.

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.


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