Mother Of Precious Doe Pleads Guilty In Daughter's Death

Thursday, September 13th 2007, 4:21 pm
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The mother of a young girl known as ``Precious Doe'' pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, whose decapitated remains were found in a park and left unidentified for four years.

Michelle Johnson, 32, of Muskogee, Okla., also pleaded guilty to child endangerment, abandoning a corpse and tampering with evidence. She admitted that she knew her daughter, Erica, was badly injured but did nothing to help her as she lay dying after allegedly being abused by her stepfather.

As part of the plea agreement, Johnson will testify against her husband, Harrell Johnson, in his February trial for first-degree murder, assistant prosecutor Tim Dollar said. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against him.

Prosecutors allege Harrell Johnson was high on drugs when he kicked his stepdaughter, Erica Michelle Marie Green, in the head because she wouldn't go to bed. They say he left her to die, then later decapitated her.

Michelle Johnson also acknowledged that she helped put the child's body in a park and moved part of the body to throw off investigators.

Erica's body was discovered in a Kansas City park in 2001, and her head was found several days later. The child was dubbed ``Precious Doe'' and activists kept attention on her case.

The couple was arrested in Muskogee, Okla., after police got a tip from a family member linking them to the death. The girl was identified in May 2005.

In exchange for Michelle Johnson's plea, prosecutors will recommend she serve a total of 25 years, Dollar said. If she had been convicted of second-murder at trial, Johnson could have been sentenced to life in prison. Her sentencing hearing is set for March 20, 2008.

She was in prison in Oklahoma for larceny when Erica was born in 1997, reports show. Erica almost immediately went into foster care and remained there until Johnson took her to Kansas City while looking for work.

A funeral was held for the child in December 2001, drawing hundreds of people who didn't know the her name. The body was exhumed in July 2003 so experts could make a lifelike bust of what she may have looked like. She was buried again.

Watch the video: Precious Doe's Mother Pleads Guilty In Her Death

Related Stories:

5/9/2005 Muskogee Couple To Be Extradited Tuesday In Precious Doe Killing

5/16/2005 First-Degree Murder Charges Still Possible In Precious Doe Case

11/9/2005 State Lawmakers Plan 'precious Doe' Study

12/3/2005 Prosecutor To Seek Death Penalty In "Precious Doe" Case

12/15/2005 Defense Lawyer Says State Waited Too Long To Seek Death

12/19/2006 Judge Asked To Throw Out Confession In Precious Doe Case