A woman who served time in a Missouri prison for murder more than a decade ago is now facing a murder charge in Bowie County, Texas.
Shirley Ann Falkowski, 54, appeared Thursday morning before 5th District Judge Bill Miller with a member of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office. Falkowski was escorted by security staff from the jail upstairs to a first-floor courtroom of the Bi-State Justice Building for a pre-indictment hearing on a charge of murder stemming from the Aug. 5, 2015, death of James Earl Johnson.
Johnson was found dead in his DeKalb, Texas, apartment, according to a probable cause affidavit. He had been stabbed multiple times.
Members of the DeKalb Police Department requested assistance in the investigation from the Texas Rangers. Witnesses reported that Falkowski may have been the last person to see Johnson alive.
Investigators acquired video surveillance footage, which allegedly showed Falkowski attempted to use Johnson's debit card to withdraw money from a DeKalb bank at 12:33 a.m. and 12:35 a.m. Aug. 5, 2015, while driving a white Pontiac sedan.
Texas Rangers tracked down the car and learned from the owner he had loaned it to Falkowski to move Aug. 4, 2015. A sample of blood collected from the car's interior allegedly was a match for Johnson's DNA.
When interviewed by law enforcement in August 2015, Falkowski allegedly claimed that Johnson had given her the debit card to get cash for cigarettes but she was unable because the personal identification number she had for the card did not work.
Johnson was reinterviewed Feb. 12 of this year. During the recent interview, Falkowski allegedly confessed to stabbing Johnson with a knife.
According to the affidavit, the circumstances of Johnson's death are similar to a murder for which Falkowski served time in a Missouri prison. Court records in St. Louis show Falkowski pleaded guilty Sept. 29, 1998, to second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Falkowski received a 12-year term for murder and a three-year term for armed criminal action and the two sentences were run concurrently.
Falkowski is facing a first-degree felony murder charge in Bowie County. Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter said at Thursday's hearing that she doesn't expect Falkowski's murder case in Bowie County to be quickly resolved and asked that it be referred to a grand jury for consideration of possible indictment.
Should a grand jury indict Falkowski for first-degree murder, she could face five to 99 years or life in prison. Falkowski is currently being held in the Bowie County jail with bail set at $1 million.