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Ex-CHP officer sentenced in husband's murder

March 9, 2012
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LOS ANGELES—A former California Highway Patrol officer was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for murdering her husband.

Tomiekia Johnson, 32, slumped over and put her face down toward the defense table as the punishment was announced.

In January, she dramatically collapsed to the courtroom floor when the jury convicted her of the first-degree murder of 31-year-old Marcus Lemons, who was shot in the head while seated on the passenger side of Johnson's car near a freeway off-ramp on Feb. 21, 2009.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry denied a defense motion for a new trial.

"The defendant's version of the shooting was at variance from the physical evidence," Perry said.

After sentencing, Johnson grimaced as she was led away by sheriff's deputies, and supporters in the courtroom called out to her and criticized the justice system, according to TV broadcasts of the scene.

Johnson was a CHP officer but was off duty at the time of the killing.

Authorities say that shortly after the couple left a Compton restaurant, Johnson shot Lemons in the head and drove to her parents' home with the body in the passenger seat.

Johnson claimed they had argued, and Lemons threatened to kill her and began choking her. She testified about a struggle over a purse containing a gun.

"I was scared. I didn't want to die," she testified. "When I grabbed it tight, it fired."

Forensic evidence and testimony from criminalists showed that Johnson fired an intentional contact shot, prosecutors said.

Johnson was sentenced in the same courtroom where a day earlier former Los Angeles police detective Stephanie Lazarus was convicted of murdering the wife of a former lover in 1986. That cold-case prosecution centered on DNA found in a bite mark on the victim.

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