Mooresville woman could face death penalty, attempts self-harm


Marlene Postell Johnson

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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — A Mooresville woman imprisoned in Rowan County for murder could face the death penalty for a homicide that took place in July.

Marlene Postell Johnson, 61, of Mooresville, was arrested on July 24 in connection with the murder of 62-year-old Shirley Goodnight Pierce, of Kannapolis.

This morning, Johnson, who is awaiting trial, had a scheduled court hearing. The hearing was to determine if this case would be tried as a capital murder case seeking the death penalty and was also to consider a request by Johnson’s attorney for a bond reduction for his client.

Upon conclusion of the hearing, it was determined that the District Attorney’s Office would seek the death penalty against Johnson during the future trial on the murder charges. The judge also denied any bond reduction for Johnson.

Johnson was then taken back to the Rowan County Detention Center’s female housing unit.

Shortly before noon, the female inmates were issued their mid-day meal and a detention officer had just left the housing unit.

Once the detention officer left the housing unit, Johnson climbed up onto the top of a two-tiered bunk, stood up and then — according to detention officers — intentionally flung her body backward. Johnson hit the floor below the bunk with her neck and head striking the floor first.

This incident was captured on video and no other inmates were near Johnson when she committed the act.

Johnson had not shown any indication of attempting to harm herself prior to committing the act. The video is still under review.

Johnson was transported to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center for treatment. After initial evaluations, Johnson was transported to an undisclosed medical center for further treatment of her injuries.

She will remain under constant guard by law enforcement personnel while being treated at any medical facility.

The extent of Johnson’s injuries was not disclosed.

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