Mark David Johnson received two life sentences late Thursday afternoon for the October 2010 deaths of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, 30 years for the attempted first-degree murder of his former wife, and 20 years for the first-degree battery of another woman.
Johnson, 49, of Hamburg, drove his 2002 Dodge Ram into his wife, Heather Johnson’s vehicle, which was driven by one of her friends, Shelly Paccio. Paccio and Heather Johnson, the back seat passenger, were both injured while the front seat passenger Austin Nichole Paccio and her unborn daughter, Adaleigh Marie Paccio died. The crash occurred on Arkansas 52 about two miles northeast of Crossett.
Johnson was originally scheduled to be tried in Ashley County but just as his December 2011 capital murder trial got underway, Circuit Judge Don Glover granted a defense motion for a change of venue due to widespread opinions about the defendant in Ashley County.
A Drew County jury of seven men and five women deliberated about an hour late Thursday afternoon before returning with the sentences.
Johnson pleaded guilty to the crimes Tuesday morning and the sentencing phase of the trial began Wednesday morning.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, Johnson’s attorneys argued that although Johnson caused the deaths in the course of committing a felony (terroristic threatening of his then wife), he did not intend to kill anyone.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen told the jury Johnson didn’t “give a damn one way or another.”
Following the trial, Deen said he was grateful for the jury’s decision.