New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Jury finds Johnson guilty of terrorizing public officials


September 7, 2020

Darin Johnson of New Rockford was found guilty of Class C Felony terrorizing. The verdict was handed down by an Eddy County jury on Friday, Aug. 28 after a two-day trial in Southeast District Court.

Johnson was arrested on Sept. 27, 2019 for making threats against Eddy County Sheriff Paul Lies right outside the Eddy County Courthouse, causing local officials to execute lockdown procedures.

According to the criminal complaint, "The Defendant did intentionally drive his truck on Central Avenue in front of the Eddy County Courthouse, where Sheriff Paul Lies' window faces, did slow down, rev his engine up, and speed down the street; minutes later, he returned yelling 'F*** you, Paul Lies! F*** you! F*** you!'" His volume was so loud that the sheriff, deputies and other office staff in the courthouse could hear him from inside their offices while the doors and windows were shut.

Johnson then pulled into the alley behind the courthouse and parked behind the Sheriff's vehicle, where he got into a verbal altercation with a deputy who came outside to question his behavior. He said, "I want my guns back and I'm coming for them today," then took off. He was referring to guns he owned that were seized by the Eddy County Sheriff's Office in a prior case, for which he was on probation at the time.

The courthouse staff was so concerned that he would return to retrieve the weapons that they instituted lockdown procedures to secure the courthouse. Johnson later drove by former Eddy County State's Attorney Travis Peterson's residence and business yelling threats.

After hearing all the evidence and witness statements, the jury handed down a guilty verdict after just 45 minutes of deliberation.

In her sentencing request, Prosecutor Ashley Lies asked that the judge sentence Johnson to 5 years in prison, followed by 3 years probation. Johnson's court-appointed attorney, Samuel A. Gereszek, countered that he should be given credit for time served (and serve no additional jail time) and be placed on 2 years probation. Judge James Hovey sentenced Johnson to 5 years in prison, with 3 years and 6 months suspended. He was also given credit for 87 days served, and will be subject to 2 years probation upon release in approximately 15 months. He was also ordered to pay $2,150 in fines, fees and restitution.

Johnson was remanded into custody at the conclusion of the sentencing, and he is currently serving his imposed sentence at the James River Correctional Facility in Jamestown. He will not be transferred to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Bismarck for approximately 30 days due to COVID-19 policies. In the meantime, the county will pay the daily detention fees to James River Correctional Facility, which will be reimbursed by the state.


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