HOUSTON – Brecker Johnson, 39, pled guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced as a habitual offender to 20-years with no opportunity for parole by Chickasaw County Circuit Court Judge Robert Elliott Monday.
Johnson had initially been charged with the murder of John L. Wofford, who was stabbed at their Woodland residence in May. As a habitual offender convicted of murder, Johnson would have been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
Dressed in an orange Mississippi Department of Corrections jumpsuit Johnson said she understood the charges, was aware of the consequences and realized the conviction as a habitual offender would not allow the judge to reduce her sentence. Elliott also asked Johnson if she wanted to say anything to the victim’s family before he sentenced her.
“From the bottom of my heart, if I would take it back I would,” said Johnson, “I’m so sorry.”
Johnson’s habitual offender status came from a Chickasaw County conviction in March 2002 for possession of a firearm and a separate conviction for transfer of a stolen firearm. In June 2003 Johnson was convicted of grand larceny in Prentiss County.
“The family agreed to this reduction in charges,” said Chickasaw County District Attorney Ben Creekmore. “This plea prevented the family from the stress of a week-long murder trial and it also allowed the defendant to admit responsibility for her actions and ask the victim’s family for forgiveness.”
Johnson was indicted in August on murder charges as a habitual offender, following an investigation into the stabbing of Wofford.
That incident saw Wofford stabbed in the back in a domestic disturbance, with Johnson then riding in the vehicle with Wofford to the hospital. That vehicle crashed into a rain-swollen ditch north of Woodland with Johnson making it out of the vehicle.
Wofford was pronounced dead at the scene.
Creekmore had said prior to Monday’s plea the state would not be seeking capital murder charges. Capital murder cases – which can carry the death penalty – must have been committed in the presence of another felony such as rape, arson, burglary or robbery.
Monday’s plea brought to a close the first of three 2013 homicide cases before the court in Chickasaw County.
Capital murder charges were filed in September against Gregory Mitchell, 32, in connection with the stabbing death of William Ray “Shorty” Bevill in his home April 15, 2013.
Mitchell was indicted in August and no trial date has been set.
Chickasaw County’s third homicide case involves the death of Amanda Porter who was found stabbed at her home in Houston
Will Porter, 28, was charged in February 2013 with murder in connection to that January 2013 incident. No trial date has been set for Porter.