Prosecutor alleges woman killed daughter and husband, let bodies “rot” for 3 days
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A woman ambushed her teenage daughter and executed her husband in their San Carlos condominium and let the bodies "rot” for three days while concocting a story that made her appear to be a hero, a prosecutor alleged Thursday.
Regina Johnson, 60, is accused of fatally shooting her husband, Reuben, and 14-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, on the morning of May 30, 2012. She testified that she shot her 56-year-old husband after he killed their daughter.
In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney told jurors that "objective” physical evidence belied the defendant’s story, from cell phone records that tracked her husband’s movements to bullet trajectories and a jar of petroleum jelly that the teen was holding.
The bodies "were left to rot for three days while she thought of a way to get away with it,” Rooney said.
She said the evidence showed that the defendant shot her daughter in the back of the head shortly after the girl took a shower and ate breakfast. After her husband came home from a doctor’s appointment and saw the body, the defendant shot him in the abdomen and then in the head, according to the prosecutor.
"The objective evidence is that Reuben Johnson was executed as he sat on the floor helpless,” Rooney told the jury.
Johnson is charged with two counts of murder and various weapons allegations. She faces 100 years to life in prison if convicted.
In his closing argument, defense lawyer Neil Besse said while his client shot her husband, she was faced with the "unexpected” and "unthinkable” trauma of watching him shoot their daughter and is guilty, at most, of manslaughter.
"There’s no way Regina Johnson killed her daughter,” Besse said. "It’s not who she was. She loved her too much.”
The physical evidence, such as blood spatter patterns, led to a lot of "guesswork” in the case, he said.
According to testimony, the defendant remained in her home in the 7200 block of Navajo Road with the decomposing bodies until concerned family members from Washington state made an emergency call for authorities to check on the family.
She was described as being depressed over the loss of her job and her failing marriage. Aaliyah, meanwhile, was growing up, becoming more assertive and had a boyfriend, bringing new distance in the West Hills High School freshman’s relationship with her mother, according to trial testimony.
The prosecutor said the gun contained the defendant’s DNA and her fingerprints were found on the weapon’s magazine.
The defendant also got rid of shell casings and pills she was taking for depression, according to Rooney, and used lipstick to write a message to her doctor on a bathroom mirror.
"You know I should not have been taking all those pills,” the message read.