‘She kept going back’

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 14, 2003

Mother laments daughter’s murder

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Lee Arthur King told police he strangled Patricia Johnson, according to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday and signed by police Lt. Susan Smith.

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The affidavit also states that Lucy Freeman, Johnson’s mother, told Selma Police Capt. Joe Harrell that King once made a threat against the life of her daughter.

Freeman reported her daughter missing one week ago. Sunday, she found her daughter’s body in the woods behind the Craig Motel, where King and Johnson had been sharing a room.

In an interview with The Times-Journal, Freeman said she had warned her daughter again and again not to stay with King.

But Freeman said that her daughter told her she loved King.

Freeman said that Johnson and King had been living together for about a year in different locations. Even though her daughter had dated King for year, however, Freeman said that she didn’t really know the man.

Both would come to her house in Selmont, she said, but only Johnson would come inside. King would remain in the car while her daughter was visiting.

King was officially charged with Johnson’s murder Tuesday. He had his first appearance before a judge Thursday morning in a magistrate’s hearing.

District Attorney Ed Greene said that anyone who’s been arrested and in custody is required to be brought before a magistrate within 72 hours.

This is so a magistrate can address the issue of bond, but also ensure that the defendant knows what he or she is charged with.

If King had not seen a magistrate within that 72 hour time frame, Greene said that he would have been given the lowest possible bond. Instead, King has no bond.

At the hearing King was told that he was charged with murder and why he was in jail.

Attorney Kyra Sparks was appointed as King’s defense attorney and another hearing scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Sparks said that on Wednesday she’ll request that bond be set for King.

She’ll also plans ask for a preliminary hearing so she can find out any information the state may have about him.

Concerning the affidavit, Sparks said that she hadn’t had enough time yet to examine what was said and the conditions that King made his statement under.

Sparks also said that she plans to enter a plea of &uot;not guilty&uot; before District Judge Nathaniel Walker on Wednesday.

Greene said that the affidavit stated that preliminary autopsy findings revealed that Johnson had been strangled and died as a result.

He also said that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences would testify that marks found on Johnson are consistent with a sweater she was wearing.

Johnson was found by relatives behind the Craig Motel on Sunday.

Her mother had reported her missing Feb. 6 after she hadn’t seen Johnson for two days.

King was brought into police custody Monday and charged with murder Wednesday.