A Fresno man who stabbed another man to death five years ago has been convicted of murder in Fresno County Superior Court.
The jury deliberated about 90 minutes Tuesday before convicting Paul Allen Johnson, 50, of killing Arthur McKown, 53, in January 2012.
At hearing on Wednesday, Johnson admitted that he had a prior felony conviction for making criminal threats in 2001. He now faces 31 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on April 20.
Johnson did not testify in his trial. He and the murdered victim knew each other.
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The victim suffered 39 stab wounds and 11 cutting wounds, including on his face and neck.
During the trial, jurors learned that on the night of Jan. 24, 2012, Johnson and McKown walked together through their east-central Fresno neighborhood, as was their habit, and they stopped at several liquor stores along the way. The next morning, McKown was found dead in an alley behind a nearby grocery store near Olive and Chestnut avenues. He suffered 39 stab wounds and 11 cutting wounds, including on his face and neck.
Prosecutor Gabriel Brickey told the jury that Johnson used bleach in an attempt to cover up his crime. But he said detectives searching his home found headphones and a plastic wrapper with McKown’s blood on them. Surveillance video also captured the two of them walking together several times that night, and police found Johnson at the scene of the crime with several knives, Brickey said.
But defense attorney Jane Boulger said: “Everyone has bleach in their laundry room.” Johnson's mother had used bleach to disinfect a cut on his hand the morning before McKown was killed, Boulger told the jury, which is why he smelled like bleach when police arrested him.
Prosecutor Gabriel Brickey told the jury that Johnson used bleach in an attempt to cover up his crime
Boulger said no one saw Johnson kill McKown; there were no witnesses or surveillance footage of the crime. She also said Johnson has knives because he sells them at swap meets and yard sales to make extra money. In addition, police confiscated and tested more than a dozen of Johnson’s knives, but none was linked to the killing, Boulger told the jury.
The case took years to get to trial because court records show that Johnson’s mental capacity to assist in his defense was called into question a few months after his arrest and again in 2013. Because doctors found him mentally incompetent to stand trial, Johnson was transferred to Atascadero State Hospital in April 2013, court records say. Once Johnson’s mental capabilities were restored with medication, he returned the the Fresno County Jail later that year.
By law, Johnson will be eligible for release under the Elderly Parole Program once he reaches the age of 60 and after serving 25 years in prison.
Until his sentencing, Judge Timothy Kams ordered Johnson to be held in the Fresno County Jail without bail.