BOSTON, June 17, 2012—Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office has filed paperwork seeking a new sentence for a violent serial rapist after the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed the man’s earlier convictions on an unrelated home invasion, potentially putting him on the street decades earlier than the sentencing judge anticipated.
Conley’s office on Friday moved for a hearing at which prosecutors would once again seek their original recommended sentence of life plus 40 years for MICHAEL JOHNSON (D.O.B. 4/9/69) on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of attempted rape for which he was convicted in 2010. Those convictions stem from anApril 10, 1990, assault on a 23-year-old woman in her Wellington Street home; aMay 7, 1990, assault on a 24-year-old woman in her West Concord Street home; and an assault on that woman’s 30-year-old roommate on the same date. In those cases, Johnson broke into the victims’ residences, cut their telephone lines, attacked and forced himself on them, and fled with money or valuables.
At the time of those convictions, Johnson was serving lengthy state prison sentences for breaking into a Concord Square residence on the night of July 28, 1999, brutalizing two women, ages 58 and 77, who lived there, and robbing them. He was arrested nearby with the stolen goods on his person and one victim’s blood on his clothing. After his 2005 conviction in that case, he was sentenced to four concurrent terms of 33 to 40 years in state prison with credit for time served awaiting trial. He was also ordered to submit a DNA sample upon conviction, which led to his identification and subsequent conviction as the assailant in the 1990 rapes.
The lead prosecutor on the rape case recommended a life term in state prison for the Wellington Street attack and two consecutive 20-year terms for the West Concord Street attacks. Judge Peter Lauriat sentenced Johnson to a term of 17 to 20 years in state prison, ordering that term to begin only after the end of his sentences on the Concord Square home invasion.
“[H]e also has a substantial period left to serve in those sentences,” Lauriat said as he sentenced Johnson for the rapes. “That, too, I’ve taken into consideration.”
Late last year, however, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed Johnson’s convictions on the home invasion case on the grounds that a judge erred in accepting Johnson’s repeated requests, ultimately granted by the trial judge, to represent himself without defense counsel. Two MAC justices decided that the trial judge should have conducted “an extensive colloquy relative to the defendant’s current or past mental health,” though he was repeatedly deemed competent to stand trial and, as a third justice noted in his dissent, “presented not a scintilla of behavior indicative of any competency problems.”
Conley’s office sought further appellate review of that decision but was denied.
The direct result, prosecutors say, is that Johnson – convicted of multiple violent felonies targeting young and elderly women – could return to society almost 30 years earlier than any sentencing judge expected.
A hearing date on the proposed re-sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
Assistant District Attorney Leora Joseph filed Friday’s motion. She prosecuted the rape cases with Assistant District Attorney Barbara Young. Assistant District Attorney David McGowan argued against Johnson’s appeal in the home invasion case. Anne Kelley-McCarthy is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Johnson was represented by attorney Cynthia Thomas on the home invasion appeal and Bruce Carroll on the rapes.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.