Terry Louis Johnson
On the night of December 30, 1993 Sylvia Mosier returned to her Taylorsville Utah apartment about twenty minutes after nine and her life was never the same. Sylvia, a single mother, raising fourteen year old Christopher had just been trying to make ends meet. To supplement her job at a local restaurant she had also taken up babysitting. On that day she was babysitting for Linda Johnson who had a two month old son. Linda had been scheduled to pick the baby up around five that night which worked out great since Sylvia needed to leave a little before six to put in three hours at her other job. But, Linda had called and was going to be later than expected, putting in extra hours at her own job. Christopher had offered to watch the baby until either he was picked up by one of his parents or Sylvia returned home from work.
Sylvia called a little after seven to check on things and Christopher had indicated that things were fine. Christopher's grandmother called him about 7:30 and they spoke to about five minutes. Again, Christopher indicated that everything was fine and also mentioned that the baby was still there. Whether Sylvia attempted to reach Christopher two or three more times before she left work at nine became a point of contention and in my opinion became more of an issue than necessary. Regardless it seems that Sylvia called at least twice between 7:45 and 8:00 and received no answer.
When she returned home and got inside she did initially see or hear Christopher. She would find him on the floor of her room in a puddle of blood. An examination would show that she had been stabbed fifteen times, once in the back and fourteen times in the chest and abdomen area. Despite his age Christopher was large for his age and he also had several defensive wounds on his arms, legs and hands indicating he had not gone down without a fight. Investigators would discover that a video camera, a 35 mm camera, a bar of soap and money out of a piggy bank were missing. But, more importantly so was the baby that Christopher had been watching.
Authorities went to Linda Johnson's home, one in which she shared with her husband, Terry, and received no answer. At this point they were unsure if the baby had been picked up by a parent or had been kidnapped. However, while they were there Linda arrived home. At that time they collected two baby blankets and the clothes the baby had been wearing. Linda told the investigators that her husband had picked the baby up from the Mosier home. She had apparently not been aware as she had also gone there around 8:15 or 8:30 but she had received no answer at the door. After she returned home Terry had called her saying he was at his friend's home and had been drinking. He asked her to come and get the baby, and that was where she had been coming from when she met officers at her door. The investigators asked her to call Terry at his friends house and tell him they wanted to speak to him. It was said that he immediately went home and talked to the officers.
In his first interview with investigators Terry stated that he had gone to a class related to his job but had decided not to stay and he left somewhere between 6 and 6:50. He estimated that he had gotten to the Mosier home between 7 and 7:50. Terry said he went inside, things seemed fine, he got his son and headed to his friend, Magey Hassan's home, getting there somewhere between 8:30 and 9. After doing some drinking he had decided it would not be safe for him to drive home with the baby and called Linda to come and get him. He had stated to officers that he felt Christopher was too young to babysit for the infant.
A few days after his first interview investigators talked to Terry Johnson again. This time he stated he went to where the class was being held but he decided that he wanted to drink and party instead. He narrowed the time in which he was at the Mosier home to between 7:40 and 7:55. He claimed to have used the bathroom at the Mosier home and stated that when he left Christopher was fine. In this interview he also admitted that when he was at Magey Hassan's home they had also done drugs along with the drinking of alcohol.
It is unclear but it appears that it may have been at this second interview that investigators asked for the clothing that he had worn on the night of December 30th. His wife had stated that he usually wore a green army jacket in the winter but he did not turn one over to investigators. No evidence was apparently found on the clothing.
In 1994 both of the baby blankets and the baby's clothing were tested for DNA. There appeared to be “more than” one individual's DNA which would not be unusual. It was said that the “primary and strongest” DNA samples were consistent with Christopher Mosier's blood. The report stated that he pattern found occurred in “approximately 1 in 294,000 Caucasians.” It really did not seem to be enough to take to court.
For the next several years the case seemed to linger. In the meantime two significant things seemed to happen. First, Linda and Terry divorced and Magey Hassan had become sober and no longer did drugs. Both Linda and Hassan had told investigators in 1993 that Terry did not seem to be acting unusual on the night of the murder. They claim he acted calm and fine. Years later Linda would also say that in the beginning she had believed him and trusted him but that over time she became convinced that he was involved. She claimed she stayed in the marriage out of not just economic reasons but he had been abusive and threatening. She knew he had a serious drug issue and things would disappear from their home but she had homed things would change. When it would be pointed out to her that in 1993 she made several positive remarks about Terry she would claim “I was saying what I needed to in order to survive.” But, Linda had gotten away. She had left Utah a few years after Christopher was murdered and apparently did not look back. When new investigators were looking at the case again it took them a bit to find Linda, but they finally did. They also found Hassan.
It seemed a bit unclear exactly when Hassan allegedly told investigators that when Terry had gotten to his home with the baby, alcohol and crack cocaine he had gone into the bathroom and changed his clothes. It was alleged that he told investigators that Terry was in there for such a long time he went to check on him. When Terry came out of the bathroom he put is clothes in a bag and when he left he took the bag with him. Hassan also allegedly told officers that Terry had left a bar of soap at his home. To be fair in 2004 Hassan would get on the witness stand and say he never stated this to police. What seems more clear and agreed upon is that Hassan claimed that two days after the murder Terry had told him “he couldn't stab someone fifteen or sixteen times” and could never do such a thing. This became important because the amount of stab wounds had not been released.
In 2001 a new and upgraded type of DNA testing was available. However only one of the baby blankets could be tested. Results stated that 5 of the 13 points matched Christopher and this came to be about 1 in 5.1 million people. This was much better than the original testing, but they still seemed to need more.
Terry Johnson was interviewed concerning the murder for a third time in January of 2002. It was then that he stated he did not go to the class after work at all and had instead gone to a “sexually oriented business.” He then continued to admit going to the Mosier home and using the bathroom. He claimed that he had not called Linda to inform her he was doing this because he did not have her number. Again he stated that Christopher was fine when he left. At this interview he stated he had no issues with Christopher babysitting even after being confronted with an alleged statement he made to his wife stating otherwise. When asked about the green jacket Terry stated that he never wore the jacket because it was too small for him. Investigators allege that the jacket had once belonged to an ex of Linda's and that man was much bigger than Terry. It was unclear whether at this interview Terry denied that he had done drugs that night or whether he was saying that Hassan had not done any drugs despite the fact that by now Hassan had admitted it himself.
It is not clear exactly when Terry was arrested and charged with Christopher's murder, other than to say it was in 2002. His trial would begin in June of 2004. Prosecutors would argue that Terry admitted being at the Mosier home in the narrow time in which Christopher had been killed. They believe that Christopher had to have been killed between 7:35 when he hung up the phone from speaking to his grandmother and 8:15 when Linda went to the home and did not receive an answer at the door. Linda had even called Christopher's grandmother to see if she had any information. The phone calls show this and Terry admits that he had not called Linda and told her he was picking up the baby. Prosecutors argued that the proof was in the DNA that was found on the baby blanket that he had taken with him when he had picked his son up. Sylvia Mosier testified of course but one of the more interesting things involved the video camera that had been taken from her home. She claimed on the stand that she had generally kept it in the front room of her home but that Johnson had come to the home once and seemed to strangely stare at the camera and so she had moved it into her room later feeling uneasy.
As far as the defense was concerned there was no proof what so ever that Terry had committed the crime. They point to other people, including a man Sylvia had been dating and a friend of Christopher's named Brandon. Both of these men had been looked at. It was true that Christopher and the man that Sylvia was dating did not have a good relationship and had even had an argument just days before Christopher was murdered. Authorities looked into him and his alibi. They determined that the guy was a slimeball but not a murderer. At the time Christopher was murdered it was proven that the man was a good distance away, on a date with another woman. Brandon had also reached the radar for investigators not only because he was a good close friend of Christopher's but initially they thought he seemed to know a lot about the crime. They were a little concerned with the relationship initially because Brandon was several years older than Christopher. But, Brandon and Christopher were both into video games and that seemed to be all they did together. At Christopher's funeral they overheard the rumors about Brandon seeming to have information but they soon learned that while he did know things he had been told by Sylvia.
As far as the DNA being found, the defense could not really argue that it did not belong to Christopher. But, they did attempt to argue that there was no way of knowing when that blood had gotten on the blanket. They argued that the Johnson baby had been in and out of the Mosier home for nearly two months and that at any point and time Christopher could have scratched even a finger that bled and touched the blanket.
At the trial Linda had apparently discussed several incidents of domestic violence and her fear of Terry in their marriage. It seems that in general the State of Utah does not allow evidence of past domestic violence into the court cases but the state had argued that it was the alleged domestic violence that had caused Linda to initially lie to the investigators. Linda would speak of several incidents, one that had occurred during a pregnancy and had caused a miscarriage.
A fellow inmate named Matt Rushton was an interesting addition to the trial. At some point after Terry's arrest Matt Rushton went to the police and said that he had heard a story about the murder of Christopher Mosier. Now, just what that story was, other than the fact that Terry Johnson was not involved is unclear. He claimed that he had read Terry's “discovery” papers and it had reminded him of this alleged story he had heard. Police interviewed Rushton again later and he confessed that not only had Terry Johnson offered him $100,000 to fabricate a story to the police, he had given him facts to come up with the story. According to Rushton, Terry had told him to make sure to include a person named Brandon. For his cooperation at trial Rushton received a reduction of his charges from a third degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor.
Despite maintaining his innocence the jury found him guilty in the murder of Christopher Mosier. In August of 2004 he was given a sentence of five years to life. A 2007 appeal was denied. Attorney's had argued several things such as the DNA, Rushton's testimony, Linda's alleged domestic violence and of course the standby appeal issue... ineffective counsel. In 2011 he again tried the latter in an appeal and again it was denied. The Utah Department of Corrections does not show any sort of parole date eligibility but according to a 2011 news article he is not eligible until the year 2027. I cannot say that I understand that or that it is for certain however.