Louisiana sheriff's deputy slain; former inmate arrested

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2016 3:15 PM

Authorities have arrested a former inmate in the death of a sheriff's deputy whose body was found earlier this week in a shallow grave near her north Louisiana home.

Jermaine Johnson, 35, was booked with second-degree murder on Tuesday in the killing of his neighbor, Sulyn Prince, 69, and his bond has been set at $1 million, Louisiana State Police Trooper Matt Harris said Thursday. Additional charges are pending.

The second-degree murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana. Johnson's court-appointed attorney, Paul Garner, did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.

State police found Prince's body late Monday, Harris said. Evidence found in her house in Homer led to Johnson's arrest.

Neither Harris nor Prince's former employer, Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton, would discuss a possible motive. They also declined to say how Prince was killed.

Johnson had been indicted in 2009 on an aggravated rape charge, and was held for five years in the Webster Parish jail where Prince worked. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to simple rape, was sentenced to the five years he had served, and was released in early 2015, Sexton said.

Family members asked Homer police to check on Prince on Monday; they found evidence of foul play and called state police for help, Harris said. Late Monday evening, dogs from the Shreveport Fire Department Cadaver Search Team found Prince's grave in woods just north of her house, Harris said.

"Good old-fashioned police work and a piece of evidence found by the Homer Police Department led troopers to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Johnson," Harris said.

Prince worked in the control room at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center west of Minden, and had worked at the jail for 12 years, Sexton said. Sexton said she had prior corrections experience with David Wade Correctional Center, a state facility near Homer, and at the Claiborne Parish Detention Center.

Sexton said Prince was "one of my best employees and she never had a bad day."

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This story has been corrected to show that the suspect is 35, not 36, and that it was Louisiana State Police Trooper Matt Harris, not the Webster sheriff, who released the information about Johnson's arrest. The victim's first name and age have been restored.