FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been more than a year since jurors convicted former Fort Worth mortuary owner Dondre Johnson of theft and sentenced him to time in prison. But now, the man is about to be free once again after a decision made by an appeals court on Thursday night.
Defense lawyer Alex Kim stated that the appellate court dismissed Johnson’s felony case because he was charged criminally in what should have been a civil case. This error now results in an acquittal for Johnson.
Johnson was convicted of taking money from his funeral home’s customers, but then leaving the bodies of their loved ones in a back room to decompose. Kim asked jurors to consider giving him probation so that he could care for his four children, but prosecutors had insisted on prison time. In addition to a prison sentence, Johnson was given a $10,000 fine.
During the trial, Johnson claimed that he did not mean to mislead anyone. He blamed his wife, saying that she was the owner and operator of Johnson Family Mortuary. “She’s the one who signs the leases. She’s the one who pays the bills,” Kim had said during the trial. “It’s a family-run business, but she’s the boss.”
Johnson’s wife was sentenced to 21 months in prison back in June for felony food stamp fraud.
In addition to the theft charge, Johnson had pleaded guilty in May to nine misdemeanor counts of abusing a corpse.
Kim is not yet sure when Johnson will be let out of prison. It could be as soon as Friday, but might be delayed until February.