Told police it was self-defense
The Hill County Attorney filed charges in state District Court in Havre Wednesday charging a Havre man with murdering his brother.
Shane Johnson, born in 1968, is scheduled to appear on a charge of deliberate homicide in District Court Wednesday. He is accused of shooting his brother, Travis Johnson, 43, in their 2nd Avenue residence the evening of Nov. 9.
Shane Johnson told police that the shooting was in self-defense.
According to a charging document, investigating police officers found evidence at the scene that is not consistent with Johnson’s claim.
The document says the brother’s mother, Donna Beim, called an ambulance at 8:04 p.m. Nov. 9 for an unconscious male.
Biem, who also lives in the house on the 700 Block of 2nd Avenue, later told officers that she and her husband and brother-in-law had gone out to dinner and found Travis Johnson at the bottom of the stairs when they returned. She then called for the ambulance.
At 8:08 the Havre Fire Department EMTs that responded called for police to come to the scene.
An officer who responded noticed blood droplets on the stairs and that the location of his body was not consistent with Travis Johnson falling down the stairs, the document says.
The officer noticed that it appeared Johnson had been in that location for some time.
When Johnson was placed in the ambulance, an EMT noticed that a wound on his face was consistent with a small-caliber gunshot wound, which hospital staff later confirmed.
Johnson died shortly after arriving at the hospital, the document says.
An officer found empty beer cans and signs of a struggle in the living room upstairs, the document said. He also found what appeared to be a puddle of blood about the size of a dinner plate, which appeared to be smeared, and blood droplets that led from the living room through the kitchen then down the stairs.
When officers searched the residence, they found Shane Johnson in his bed in the bedroom, the document says. Officers saw what appeared to be blood on his hands and clothing. His nose was injured and it appeared he had been bleeding.
Johnson told officers it was in self-defense, saying, “he hit me, think he broke my nose, then he threw me down the stairs, look at me face,” the document says.
He also said, “He threw me down the stairs and the gun went off,” it says.
The document says Johnson was in his room the entire time the officers and EMTs were attending his brother and never indicated he was present.
The autopsy showed that Travis Johnson was shot twice in the head, with one shot creasing his scalp, with evidence the gun was fired at close range, and the other entering his cheek and traveling into his brain, causing his death.
Evidence indicated the second shot was fired less than an inch away from his face, the document says.
Officers found drops of blood leading from the stairs in the hallway into Shane Johnson’s bedroom, the document says. In Travis Johnson’s room at the other end of the hall, they found clothing with bullet holes through them, and evidence on a Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt that the gun had been fired at close range, and a spent .22 caliber slug. The evidence indicated the shot had been fired within Travis Johnson’s room, the document says.
Three shell casings were found near the door to Shane Johnson’s room, and an apparent bullet hole on the top of the doorjamb indicated a shot had been fired from his room. The document says a fourth shell casing was found under a folding chair in the room.
All four casings being in Shane Johnson’s room indicate one was carried from in or near Travis Johnson’s room to that location, the document says.
It adds that the firearm apparently was from Shane Johnson’s room because the case for the handgun and a spare magazine were found there.
Shane Johnson had only recently been released from the state Department of Corrections after he had served time on two previous sentences.
Johnson was charged in 2003 with raping and robbing an 81-year-old woman who had on occasion hired him to do odd jobs for her. The rape charge was dropped in a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to felony counts of burglary, theft and forgery.
In 2004, he was charged with raping a 7-year-old relative. A jury found Johnson not guilty of that charge, but he pleaded guilty to a felony count of mailing threats to the Hill County deputy attorney who filed the charge.
In January 2009, state District Judge John McKeon revoked the remaining suspended sentences in those cases and resentenced Johsnon to prison after finding that he had violated conditions of his parole including by possessing alcohol, drinking alcohol and going into bars as well as violating traffic laws and being charged with driving under the influence.
Johnson was released by the DOC after he completed serving his sentences on those charges.