Emotions ran high Monday as a double-murder case took an unexpected turn in a Carroll County courtroom. Theopolis Johnson II, 44, of Carrollton pleaded guilty to two counts each of murder and statutory rape. Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade speak with Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Cassandra Brown:
About two dozen people sat quietly in the courtroom as Johnson admitted to having sexual intercourse with Kayla Cowan, 13, on two separate occasions. Throughout a series of questions asked by Judge David Miller, Johnson appeared stoic and responded with a quiet “yes” when he was asked if he knowingly killed his fiance, Kristen Howery, 35, and Cowan in October of 2011. Investigators said Cowan was more than 22 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
Brown spoke just moments after Johnson’s admissions, hoping to provide some comfort to the grieving friends and family members in the courtroom. “Justice has been served today. However, this cannot fill the void left by the loss of your loved ones. Therefore, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Kristen Howery and Kayla Cowan. I sincerely hope knowing the defendant will spend the remainder of his life in prison will bring each of you some peace.”
In exchange for Johnson’s guilty plea, the State said they would end their pursuit of the death penalty. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole on the two murder charges and a pair of life terms on the two counts of rape.
Press Release from the Office of Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Cassandra Brown
Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney, Cassandra N. Brown, appeared before the Circuit Court of Carroll County as Theopolis Johnson II pled guilty to two counts of Murder in the First Degree and two counts of Statutory Rape in the First Degree. As part of the plea agreement, Theopolis Johnson II admitted to the murders of Kristen Howery, Kayla Cowen, and Kayla’s unborn child. Theopolis Johnson II also admitted to have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14 on two separate occasions. For these crimes, Theopolis Johnson II was sentenced to four life sentences. The life sentence for each count of Murder in the First Degree will be served without the possibility of parole.
This plea would not have been possible without the countless hours of investigative work completed by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control and Missouri State Technical Assistance Team. Specifically the investigative work by Sheriff Troy Hofstetter, Sergeant Greg Martin and Derrick Balmer was instrumental in this conviction.
Justice has been served today. However, this cannot fill the void left by the loss of a loved one. Therefore, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Kristen Howery and Kayla Cowan. I sincerely hope knowing the defendant will spend the remainder of his life in prison will bring you some peace.