Albany man found guilty on all counts in brutal murder -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany man found guilty on all counts in brutal murder

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A Lee County jury deliberated barely an hour before finding an Albany man guilty of the brutal murder of his girlfriend.

The judge then kicked the defendant's family out of the courtroom because of their emotional outburst to the verdict.

Twenty-two-year old Craig Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for murdering 23-year old Nicole Judge in February 2008. She was found naked and stabbed to death in her Winding Way apartment with her one-year old daughter near her side.

Because of the sheer brutality of this crime, the District Attorney says Craig Johnson might never get paroled. He would be eligible in 30 years. Monday it was obvious by how long it took the jury to reach their verdict they didn't buy the defense's claim that he acted in self defense.

Family members spilled onto the steps of the Lee County Courthouse after the verdict, declaring justice for Nicole Judge.

"He's a monster, he did a monstrous thing to my child. He left her daughters, three daughters, without their mother," said Sherri Judge, Nicole's mother.

Craig Johnson's family protested the guilty verdict by setting off car alarms after an outburst in the courtroom forced deputies to escort them out. Prosecutors left jurors with plenty of evidence to consider. Jurors where shown four bloody knives, blades bent, handles broken in the violent attack and gruesome pictures of a knife left in Judge's neck, but prosecutors believe it was Johnson's own taped statement claiming self defense that jurors didn't buy.

"He told about as much of the truth as he wanted to but I think the jury saw through everything and realized this was cold blooded murder," said Dan Bibler, Prosecuting Attorney.

Character statements from Johnson's mother and tears from Johnson didn't convince the jury.

"As an adult he matured as a fine young man and I've very proud to be his mother and I love him very much," said Bessie Johnson, his mother.

Nicole Judge was stabbed 14 times in the back alone. Now her family says they'll deliver the good news.

"We're on our way to the grave site to give Nicole some peace of mind and let her rest in peace," said Judge.

While the family was angry and upset about the crime, they believe the jury gave Craig Johnson a fair trial and with justice for Judge now they'll work to be the best family for Nicole's daughters.

The defense has 30 days to file an appeal. Defense attorney Nikki Bonner hasn't said yet whether they would appeals the jury's verdict.

Craig Johnson was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and financial transaction card theft. He received two life sentences, one for each count of murder, but the sentences will run concurrent.

The two years he was sentenced to serve on the financial transaction card theft will run consecutive to the life sentence. He'll remain in the Lee County Jail until he can be evaluated and sent to a state prison.

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