TAWAS CITY – Child murder suspect Justine Marie Johnson will undergo a competency and criminal responsibility evaluation.
The actions were the result of her probable cause conference held via video conferencing on Sept. 28 in Iosco County’s 81st District Court.
Johnson, 22, Oscoda – who is alleged to have murdered her 3-year-old daughter – appeared via Zoom from HealthSource Saginaw where she is lodged, and was represented by her attorney, Nathan Tyler.
Tyler requested that both a competency and a criminal responsibility evaluation be ordered for his client, which was ultimately granted by District Court Judge Christopher Martin.
The evaluations refer to a defendant’s capacity to meaningfully participate and make decisions during the criminal justice process.
The judge also approved a request from Andrew Mong, the county’s chief assistant prosecutor, who asked that the no bond and current conditions remain in place for Johnson.
“The defendant will continue to be held without bond, with the same conditions that she’s currently under,” Martin stated.
During Johnson’s arraignment hearing, bond was denied by Martin who cited the very serious nature of the allegations against Johnson.
At the Sept. 28 hearing, Martin told Johnson to make sure she works with the people who are assigned to her evaluation, and that she continues to comply with the rules of where she is currently located.
Johnson replied that she would, after which the conference concluded.
As recently reported, police allege that Johnson stabbed her daughter to death, before leaving the child in a trash bag at their home on Cedar Lake Road in Oscoda Township.
Johnson was subsequently arraigned on two felony counts in 81st District Court – homicide-felony murder and 1st-degree child abuse, both of which are punishable by life sentences in prison.
Iosco County Prosecuting Attorney James Bacarella sought charges against Johnson of the crimes, after her deceased daughter was found in the home in the early morning hours of Sept. 17, by a family member.
Oscoda Township Police Department (OTPD) officers were dispatched to the residence, where Johnson sometimes lived, after one of Johnson’s family members allegedly found a foot protruding from a trash bag inside the home.
Investigators said the foot belonged to Johnson’s daughter, who was allegedly found in the bag, wrapped in a quilt along with Johnson’s soiled clothing.
Witnesses later said Johnson was allegedly wearing the outfit found by investigators and had been doing drugs before the incident.
After the child was found, a family member immediately called 9-1-1, and police determined that the child had suffered from multiple stab wounds.
Officers allegedly found Johnson at about 9 a.m., walking the railroad tracks near Vaughn Trail in Oscoda Township. She was picked up and taken to the OTPD station for questioning in the incident.
Meanwhile, Oscoda officers and a Michigan State Police forensics lab set up an investigation of the murder scene at the Cedar Lake home to gather alleged evidence in the case. Their investigation, according to Bacarella, led to warrants for Johnson’s arrest on the murder and child abuse charges.
As of press time, no motivation for the murder has been discussed in court or highlighted in court documents. Police have indicated the investigation is currently open and ongoing and ask the public to contact either OTPD officers with any information, by calling 739-9113, or to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-773-2587.