A Thurston County judge sentenced a Lakewood man to 17 years and three months in prison Tuesday for kidnapping his ex-girlfriend in her Lacey apartment last year while armed with a firearm.
A jury had acquitted Aaron Mercedes Johnson of the more serious charge of first-degree rape during a trial this year. However, the jury convicted Johnson, 29, of five other felonies connected with the May 2012 burglary of her home, including first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, felony harassment, felony stalking and fourth-degree, misdemeanor assault.
At trial, Johnson’s 27-year-old ex-girlfriend alleged Johnson had waited outside her College Street apartment May 14, 2012. She said that when she left for work, Johnson forced her back inside, placed his hand over her mouth and refused to let her leave.
Johnson brought a handgun to the woman’s apartment, as well as a backpack containing a large knife, zip ties and several pairs of gloves, according to court papers.
The woman testified that Johnson threatened to kill her, then kill himself, after entering the apartment. She further testified that she agreed to his demand that she have sex with him because she feared he would follow through on his threat to kill her.
“I didn’t feel like I could say no,” she testified at trial.
Johnson’s attorney, Matthew Lapin of Seattle, argued at trial that the sex between Johnson and the woman was consensual. Johnson did not testify.
Lapin also argued that his client went to the woman’s apartment to try to win her back. Lapin told the jury that Johnson, who was honorably discharged from the military in 2007 after serving in the Middle East, always carried a firearm because he worked in private security.
Two of the crimes Johnson was convicted of — the felony harassment and the misdemeanor assault charge — stem from an incident about a month after the burglary and kidnapping. In June 2012, Johnson violated the conditions of his release while out on bail when he followed the ex-girlfriend on state Route 512 in Pierce County. When State Patrol troopers pulled Johnson over, they found “a woman’s wig, some oversized sunglasses, a pair of gloves and a roll of duct tape,” according to the patrol.
In a letter read in court Tuesday, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend described how his crimes have impacted her. “Physically and emotionally, he has taken away my independence,” the letter states. “I do not like going places alone. I will forever look over my shoulder to see if someone is following me, hiding in my closet, waiting for me when I step out of a building — I am constantly afraid.”
Johnson did not apologize for his crimes when given a chance to address the court Tuesday. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon noted Johnson’s lack of remorse in handing down the 17-year, three month sentence — the midpoint of the standard range.
Johnson had no prior criminal history.Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 email@example.com