Judge rules woman was defending herself by stabbing husband
A woman who was accused of stabbing her husband at least twice after he allegedly punched her in the face had three criminal charges against her dismissed at a hearing Tuesday.
Consuelia Johnson, 37, had been charged with assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon for the Aug. 18 incident at her home in the 1300 block of Candlewood Lane in Ypsilanti Township. Deputies responded to the home at 3:04 a.m. that day for a report of a domestic incident.
Consuelia Johnson and her husband James were standing outside the home yelling at each other when Deputy Daniel Buffa arrived on scene, the deputy testified Tuesday. James Johnson was bleeding from puncture wounds on the left side of his chest and on his thigh, Buffa said. Consuelia Johnson’s eye was bruised and appeared to have been punched, he said.
Buffa testified Consuelia Johnson had been in her bedroom when a van pulled up to the house and her husband got out of the passenger seat. Under the impression that he had been watching TV, she went outside to see what was going on. Her husband called the owner of the van back and showed Consuelia that one of her friends had dropped him off.
After talking with her friend, Consuelia Johnson went back inside where her husband confronted her, Buffa said. He accused her of thinking he was cheating on her.
“She said he made a statement and then punched her right in the face,” Buffa said.
The two of them immediately got into a physical altercation for a matter of moments before her son came out of his bedroom and tackled the two of them onto a nearby couch. Landing on top of the pile, Consuelia Johnson went into the kitchen while her son held down James, attempting to separate the two, Buffa said.
Consuelia returned with a knife that had a nine- to 10-inch blade, Buffa said. She admitted to Buffa that she had stabbed her husband in the side and in his thigh.
Huron Valley Ambulance took James Johnson to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital where he was treated for his injuries, which were non-life threatening.
Buffa interviewed Consuelia Johnson at the scene of the incident and said she told police she only acted because she believed her husband was going to hurt either her or her son.
“I asked if she was in fear of her husband if (her son) had let him go, and she said, ‘Yes,’” Buffa said.
It was this fear that caused District Judge Joseph Burke to rule he found no evidence Consuelia Johnson had committed a crime, ruling that she had used self-defense.
From a legal standpoint, Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor J. Samuel Holtz said Consuelia Johnson had — quite literally — brought a knife to a fistfight. He said that she had used excessive force when she stabbed her husband and that is a crime.
“We have a knife being used after she had been punched,” he said. “I’m not an advocate of what James Johnson did to his wife. The fact that her son was there and holding the elder Johnson back shows she was not in fear of a deadly attack.”
Nonetheless, Burke granted Washtenaw County First Assistant Public Defender Timothy Neimann’s request to dismiss the charges. Burke said the puncture wounds on James Johnson showed that his wife was attempting to stop him from assaulting her and was trying to protect her son. He did not believe that she was attempting to kill or cause great bodily harm, only that she was defending herself.
“There is no probable cause to show she committed any of the crimes charged against her; the case is dismissed,” Burke said.
The decision immediately caused Consuelia Johnson to break out in tears. She was ushered into a back room with her family members to give her some time to gather herself and did not speak to AnnArbor.com.
Niemann said he was happy with Burke’s decision but was surprised at the dismissal. He added that James Johnson has been charged with domestic violence for the same incident.
“I’m shocked right now. Obviously, I’m thrilled for her,” he said, pausing. “I’m just at a loss for words.”