(LOS ANGELES) — A former California Highway Patrol officer collapsed onto the floor just moments after being found guilty of murdering her husband three years ago near a freeway off-ramp.
Tomiekia Johnson, 32, was convicted Monday of first-degree murder for the 2009 shooting of Marcus Lemons. She could face up to 50 years in prison when she is sentenced March 9.
ABC News station KABC-TV had cameras rolling in the Los Angeles courtroom as the guilty verdict was read. Johnson was seen putting her hand on her forehead, then slipping out of her chair and crumpling onto the courtroom floor. Her lawyers talked to her, and smoothed her hair as she lay under the desk, weeping.
For several moments, no one in the court moved and Judge Robert Perry seemed unfazed by Johnson’s actions as the court clerk continued to read the verdict. It was only after Perry dismissed the jury that he could be heard off-camera asking Johnson’s lawyers if they needed to call the paramedics.
The courtroom was cleared after the paramedics arrived to attend to Johnson, who was then rushed to the hospital after being handcuffed to a stretcher. Her condition is unknown.
Prosecutors argued that Johnson intentionally shot her husband in Feb. 21, 2009, then drove to her parents’ home in Compton with Lemons’ body in the passenger seat. She called police, telling them she had shot her husband in self-defense when an argument between them became heated.
Johnson testified that she and her husband had a few drinks at a restaurant that evening and began fighting before they got into the car to drive home. She said she pulled over on a ramp off Freeway 91 and told Lemons to walk home. Johnson then told the jury the two struggled over her purse, which had her gun inside, when it accidentally went off, killing him.
Randy Brown, a barbershop owner in Compton and friend of Lemons who was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, said while he never had a problem with Johnson, he felt “relief” after the verdict was handed down.
“Relief that it was pretty much over and that justice was served,” Brown told KABC-TV.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Morgan Loew, CNN
Holly Yan, Paul Vercammen and Madison Park, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN