Autopsy finds Mich. lawyer died of natural causes; wife released from jail hours after funeral

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Autopsy: Mich. atty. not slain; wife ‘vindicated’

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — A lawyer whose widow was charged with murdering him died of complications from an old wound — not homicide — authorities said Tuesday, a day after she was released from jail hours after missing the funeral.

An autopsy determined that Lloyd Johnson, 47, died last week of complications from an open wound on his lower back sustained years ago when he was pierced by a boat oar, Oakland County medical examiner L.J. Dragovic said.

Johnson weighed 413 pounds and had other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cirrhosis, he said.

Prosecutors charged 46-year-old Laura Johnson with second-degree murder, manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license after police said they found scalpels, bloody bedding and what appeared to be refrigerated human tissue in the couple’s home in Farmington Hills, near Detroit.

Laura Johnson’s mother, Josephine Michalik, told The Associated Press on Friday that Lloyd Johnson had been hospitalized several times during the past two years for treatment of the wound, and that his doctors authorized her daughter to perform in-home care.

“I kept him alive longer than he would have been alive,” Johnson told WJBK-TV on Tuesday. She was released from jail on bail Monday hours after her husband’s funeral.

Defense lawyer John Williams said the autopsy amounts to “total vindication” for her, and he expects the charges to be quickly dropped. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

“His wife was providing wound care as she has been doing for two years,” Williams said. “He died from a disease process. She did not kill him. Period. The autopsy report vindicated her.”

Messages seeking comment were left with prosecutor Jessica Cooper. On Monday, she said there was insufficient evidence now to support the charges and agreed to Johnson’s release from jail.

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