Judge Sentences Domestic Homicide Defendant to 21-years in Prison

On June 17, a defendant was sentenced to 21-years in prison for the murder of 27-year-old Sierra Johnson.

In connection to Johnson’s death, 28-year-old Joseph Fox was arrested and indicted on one count of second-degree murder while armed and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. According to court documents, Johnson and Fox had an on-and-off relationship since 2014, including a domestic violence incident in 2017. The two reconnected on the night of Johnson’s death, with Fox sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle when Johnson was shot.

Johnson succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital that night. According to the autopsy report, she was four months pregnant.

On March 29, Fox accepted a pleaded guilty to all charges. The prosecutor and defense attorney Elizabeth Weller agreed to recommend a sentence of 14 to 21 years of in prison.

A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer found Johnson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in her vehicle parked on the 2500 block of Georgia Avenue, NW on Jan. 19. Her two young children were in the backseat of the car.

Before the sentencing, DC Superior Court Judge Milton Lee listened to victim impact statements from the members of Johnson’s family. The family was emotional as they stood in front of Judge Lee and asked him to give Fox a life sentence.

“You have left a hole in my heart,” Johnson’s mother said to Fox. “I can never forgive you for what you did to my child.”

Johnson’s oldest sister, who now has custody of the victim’s children, told Judge Lee of the lingering trauma that the children have after the night of the incident.

“They tell me, ‘the man killed mommy. He kept shooting mommy,’” she said.

“I couldn’t save my sister,” said Johnson’s brother. “But I hope the court system can save another sister’s life.”

After the family members spoke, the prosecution asked Judge Lee to accept the plea deal that both parties had agreed to despite the family’s disapproval.

The prosecutor argued that the plea deal was appropriate because of Fox’s early acceptance of responsibility and demonstration of remorse. The prosecutor also cited the mitigating circumstances caused by Fox’s traumatic childhood experiences that led to mental health issues that continued to plague him.

Judge Lee accepted the parties’ plea deal.

“I’m truly sorry and remorseful for my actions,” Fox said. “I wish there was more I can do for the family and kids.”

After taking into consideration the arguments from both sides and the family’s victim impact statements, Judge Lee sentenced Fox to 21-years of imprisonment with five years of supervised release, during which Fox will have to attend mental health treatment and register as a gun offender.

“This set of circumstances is one of the most difficult of my entire career in the Superior Court.” Judge Lee said. “This sentence does not recognize the significance of the pain and loss inflicted.”

Johnson’s family loudly objected to the sentence, claiming that Fox deserved life in prison. As the protests began escalating, some of the family members attempted to reach the defendant in the well. The family was escorted out of the courtroom by US Marshals.

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