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April 26, 2007 - Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

Officers Plead Guilty In Elderly Woman's Death

Three Indicted In Botched Drug Raid

By Bill Torpy , Rhonda Cook, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Two Atlanta police officers pleaded guilty today in the shooting death of an elderly woman during a botched drug raid.

Officers Gregg Junnier and Jason R. Smith, indicted on murder charges, both pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

The men were indicted Wednesday on the state murder charge in the shooting death of Kathryn Johnston.

The pleas were entered in exchange for state prosecutors setting aside the three murder charges against them.

Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson agreed to put off sentencing until the men plead guilty in federal court and agree to serve 10 years in federal prison.

The plea agreement requires the officers to help prosecutors and the FBI as they investigate the Johnson shooting on the night before Thanksgiving last year. Junnier and Smith also pleaded guilty to other lesser charges.

A third officer, Arthur Tesler, was indicted for lesser crimes, including making false statements during the investigation. He has said he will fight the charges.

The multi-count indictments were returned late Wednesday but were not made public until Thursday morning.

Officer Jason R. Smith was charged with 13 felonies, including four counts of felony murder, violation of an oath by a public officer, two counts of giving false statements, two counts of burglary and one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and perjury.

Officer Gregg Junnier, who has retired, was charged with three counts of felony murder, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation, two counts of burglary and one each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and making a false statement.

The third, Officer Arthur Tesler, is charged only with three felony counts involving making false statements.

Tesler, with eight months on the job, has vowed to fight charges against him.

The three officers were among a team of eight narcotics officers who raided Kathryn Johnston's home Nov. 21 hoping to get a cache of cocaine.

They are accused of lying to get a warrant to get into the home.

All eight were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Though only one person died during the raid -- Johnston -- prosecutors brought multiple felony murder charges against Smith and Junnier using other felony counts -- the charges of burglary, aggravated assault and false imprisonment of Johnston -- to support the counts.

© 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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