Trial opens for Whitewater man accused of killing his brother-in-law
ELKHORN—Hours after Alan M. Johnson shot and killed his brother-in-law, he walked out to the cornfield behind his parent's house with a sharpened knife.
He was planning to slit his own throat.
Instead, he walked back to the Lima Center house and saw his father, former Racine County Sheriff Eric Johnson. Alan told him what he was doing and what he had done.
“You're lying,” his father told him.
Those were among the details from police reports and interviews that Walworth County Judge Kristine Drettwan shared in court Monday, the first day of Alan Johnson's murder trial.
Alan's lawyers have conceded that Alan killed his brother-in-law, Ken Myszkewicz, 43, of Whitewater on Oct. 25, 2016. The trial will focus on whether Alan intended to kill Myszkewicz, a man Alan has said sexually and physically assaulted him and another family member years ago.
Alan is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and armed burglary. His lawyers argue that Myszkewicz attacked Alan, who shot his brother-in-law to defend himself.
“Eric stated that Alan told him that his intent was to kill Ken and then himself at the house,” Drettwan read from reports. “Eric stated that Alan told him that he hated Ken so much, and the house, that he couldn't kill himself there.”
Drettwan read from the reports because she had one more ruling to make before the jury was brought in. The prosecution had asked that the defense not be permitted to ask if there were other details that Alan told his father while confessing to the killing, Drettwan said.
She decided that based on the “rule of completeness,” she will allow Alan's statements to his father during the confession.
Consistent with her ruling in summer that she also upheld last month, Drettwan said Eric cannot discuss what Alan found on the Myszkewicz computer the night of the shooting.
Defense attorney Stephen Hurley said Alan—who had years before found child pornography on Myszkewicz's computer and later reported it—went to the Myszkewicz house that night to find more recent porn files to give police, not to kill his brother-in-law.
Police had told Alan the information he gave them previously was too dated to investigate. Hurley said the images had been “burned into his head.”
Hurley had asked Drettwan to reconsider her decision—one he called unconstitutional in court filings—that Alan cannot share what he found that night on Myszkewicz's computer.
Alan claims he found more than 5,000 images of neighborhood girls going to and from school or participating in athletic events. Files were organized into categories such as “Blondies,” according to court documents.
During his opening statement, Hurley said Alan had intended to go to the police with what he found.
Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said in her opening statement that Alan brought a loaded gun to the Myszkewicz home that night, which shows an intent to kill. Myszkewicz was shot five times, she said. Three bullets stayed in his body; two exited.
Donohoo also described the sequence of events before Alan confessed, saying that he twice denied to law enforcement that he knew details about the shooting.
She played an audiotape of the 911 call made by Kim Myszkewicz, Ken's wife and Alan's sister, when she discovered her husband's body.
Kim testified Monday that she originally thought he had fallen and hit his head, but then she discovered gunshot wounds.
When she rolled his body over to perform CPR, she said her husband let out one last gasp for breath.
While the 911 call played in the courtroom, Kim looked down, closed her eyes and began to cry quietly.
Also on the docket to testify Monday were Kim's son, Tyler Myszkewicz, 22, and Alan's former attorney, Scott McCarthy, who is a former Rock County district attorney.
Drettwan in March disqualified McCarthy from serving as Alan's lawyer because he was the only witness to some matters in the case, such as how he came to have the clothes Alan wore the night of the shooting. McCarthy later dropped off the clothes at the Walworth County Sheriff's Office.
A group of at least 10 people were in court Monday to support Kim and Tyler before their testimony.
The trial is scheduled to run through Friday.