Murder without a homicide?
I like today's Detroit Free Press editorial about the Farmington Hills murder case involving a lawyer whose death has been ruled an accident.
When murder charges were announced against Laura Lynn Johnson, 46, I wondered why the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office refused to offer a cause and manner of death of her husband, Lloyd Johnson, 47. We were told they were both pending. But it's a murder, police and prosecutors believe.
Well, it's still a murder charge but not a homicide, the Medical Examiner's Office has ruled. The manner of death is accidental and, on top of that, poor health is a contributing factor, not mistreatment or abuse.
Accidents can still be manslaughters, but now that they've gone down the path of second-degree murder, it seems the case against Laura Johnson is over.
Of course, we don't know yet because police and prosecutors won't answer questions about the case. They'll charge murder, but they hide behind the 'ongoing investigation' and feeling they are prevented from saying anything further.
It seems the problem with this case is the secrecy and lack of facts offered to the public. A murder charge is serious business and is noted within the community. They cannot order us from asking about the case and they cannot order you from wondering about what is happening or reading about it.
I've long felt that Prosecutor Jessica Cooper ordering her attorneys to not discuss their cases with reporters is a sign of lack of trust of her staff and even her office. I covered the county courthouse for four years and came to believe the attorneys within the prosecutor's office to be trustworthy, highly skilled, knowledgeable, and very reasonable. Telling them they cannot explain their cases and the law creates a needless barrier in knowing and understanding what is happening and why.
Meanwhile, in Hazel Park, a man was killed after a fight and the death has been ruled a homicide, even though the fighter may have not intended to kill the victim, it could still be murder, or manslaughter, or just assault. It could be that no crime was committed. But here's a case that could be charged murder, because it is a homicide.