ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. – Prosecutors for the 18th Judicial District will seek the death penalty for the man accused of stabbing his 6-year-old son to death in February.
District Attorney George Brauchler announced his intent to seek execution for Brandon Johnson, 27, at a preliminary hearing in Johnson’s case Friday morning.
In early February, Johnson allegedly raped his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his younger child before he allegedly stabbed his 6-year-old son in the neck, killing him.
At the morning preliminary hearing, an eighth count of first-degree murder after deliberation was added to Johnson’s charge list after the judge determined the state had established probable cause to add the charge – the most serious murder charge on Colorado’s law books.
He also faces first-degree murder of a victim under age 12 in a position of trust, child abuse causing death, sexual assault, menacing and various committing a crime with a weapon charges.
Johnson’s public defender had sought to make a plea deal if prosecutors decided not to pursue the death penalty, but withdrew the deal when Brauchler said he would pursue execution for Johnson.
Several law enforcement agents testified at the morning preliminary hearing about the crime scene and interviews with Johnson and his ex-girlfriend.
An investigator with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office testified that Johnson told his girlfriend, “All I wanted was a family,” after he allegedly raped her and stabbed his son.
The investigator said the ex-girlfriend told her that Johnson had told her not to scream while he was assaulting her or he would kill her. After she pleaded with him not to hurt his children, he walked to the bedroom and she heard his 6-year-old son scream.
Another investigator who testified Friday said that Johnson had said he was “going to kill everybody in the house” while he was assaulting his ex. She had texted him days earlier that she was seeing and sleeping with a new man.
The court took a lunch break and will resume at 2 p.m. Johnson is set to be arraigned on the new charges in the second portion of the hearing.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has previously said that no one will be executed in Colorado while he is governor. He has already put on case on hold indefinitely.
Aurora theater shooter James Holmes received a life sentence for his crimes, and only one person, Gary Lee Davis, has been executed since 1977 in Colorado.
Three people – Nathan Dunlap, Sir Mario Owens, and Robert Ray – remain on Colorado’s death row.
A jury would have to unanimously find Johnson guilty of first-degree murder in order for him to be sentenced to death. If the verdict is not unanimous and he is found guilty, Johnson would be sentenced to life in prison.
The ACLU of Colorado strongly objected to Brauchler’s decision Friday, saying the DA has “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on the Aurora theater trial…Similarly, the defendant in this case has offered to enter a guilty plea and accept a sentence of life without parole, rendering a costly trial unnecessary.”
“The ACLU of Colorado is disappointed by Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler’s decision to pursue the death penalty in yet another case, an outlier decision in direct contradiction to movement across Colorado and the rest of the country away from spending limited resources in the pursuit of death,” ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said in a news release.
This story is still developing; stay posted to Denver7 for updates from the court Friday afternoon.