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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It took a Tarrant County jury about an hour to find the owner of a now closed funeral home guilty of theft.
It was after more than half a dozen decaying bodies were found inside the Johnson Family Mortuary that Dondre Johnson was charged with two felony counts of theft. The jury agreed Johnson had collected payments for services and then didn’t perform cremations as contracted.
After the bodies were initially discovered in July of 2014, Lupe Vasquez, who’s sister’s body was found abandoned in that Fort Worth funeral home, said, “These are bodies that even though they are gone they’re still… they belong to somebody. They belong to a family.”
The sentencing phase of Johnson’s trial began at 1:15 p.m. but was suspended after a defense attorney had to leave because of a family emergency.
Johnson, who did not testify in the trial, faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
At some point later, Johnson will be back in court to face seven misdemeanor charges of abuse of a corpse. In June his wife and former funeral home co-owner, Rachel Johnson, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for felony food stamp fraud.
During the trial Johnson’s lawyers had claimed that it was actually Rachel Johnson who owned the business. “Rachel ran the show,” said defense attorney Alexander Kim. “She’s the one who signs the leases. She’s the one who pays the bills. It stops with her. It’s a family run business. But she’s the boss.”
Testimony in the punishment phase of the trial resumes Thursday morning.
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