In 2002, Mr. Johnson was involved in perhaps the most controversial cases of his career when he defended Charles Garrison in a highly-publicized, first-degree murder trial. Mr. Garrison was accused of killing his wife and burying her in the couple’s front yard. The case garnered intense publicity because for weeks, a statewide search was conducted for Mr. Garrison’s missing spouse. Ultimately, the victim’s body was discovered buried beside the couple’s home.
Mr. Johnson secured a reduced manslaughter verdict after proving to a jury that the homicide was committed in the heat of passion. Johnson presented evidence that the victim, Ms. Garrison, was preparing to divorce her husband, and was attempting to provoke him into making outlandish comments that she secretly recorded in preparation for the divorce filing. Johnson asserted that it was during one of these caustic exchanges that a physical struggle ensued between the couple that escalated into a violent encounter resulting in Ms. Garrison’s death.
Johnson’s defense was reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette in an article on March 21, 2002 entitled, “Garrison found guilty/Breckenridge man avoids life sentence.” The article summarized the case and described the testimony and argument that resulted in the manslaughter conviction.