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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – For the first time in months, Dondre Johnson was back in court.
Johnson and his wife, Rachel Hardy, owned the Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth. Last summer, police were called out to the business after the property owner found seven decomposing bodies, seemingly left abandoned.
Today, Johnson was in County Court 4 for a pre-trial hearing on his seven counts of Abuse of a Corpse. Those misdemeanors could mean up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine per charge. But his attorney says these charges will take a back seat to Johnson’s felony theft case.
“There’s a high likelihood that this will go to trial. And generally if trials happen in Tarrant County, it usually takes about a year,” Alex Kim explained.
Fort Worth police believe Johnson and Hardy took people’s money, promised them a proper funeral, but didn’t deliver.
In the past, Dondre Johnson has always had plenty to say to our cameras. But today, he tried to avoid our cameras after court.
I-Team Investigative Reporter Mireya Villarreal asked Johnson a few questions, but got very few answers, ”You can talk to my attorney. Have a great day.”
The I-Team recently uncovered Johnson was working funerals out of Sherman with a company called Serenity Chapel Funeral Services. Their owner, Travis Mitchell, is now being investigated by the state’s funeral service commission.
Alex Kim, Johnson’s attorney, says this was a lapse in judgment.
“The reality is that there was no bond condition against that. There was no rule set for him not to be involved in the funeral business,” Kim told us. “Probably not the best decision. But the reality is that there is nothing improper or illegal about that.
“Is he going to stop?” Villarreal questioned.
“He has stopped,” Kim said.
The Texas Funeral Service Commission is meeting in a few weeks to close out the Johnson’s case. Dondre Johnson’s next criminal court date is March 13th.
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