TEXARKANA, Texas --A woman sentenced to life last year by a Bowie County jury in the 2015 stabbing death of an elderly DeKalb man was denied her bid for a new trial in an opinion issued Monday by a Texas appellate court.
Shirley Ann Falkowski, 57, was convicted of murder and given the maximum punishment at the end of a trial in January 2021. The 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana affirmed the conviction and sentence Monday.
During the three-day trial, witnesses testified that Falkowski and James Earl Johnson Sr., 71, were friends who may have had a romantic relationship at some point. A car Falkowski borrowed from a friend and was driving Aug. 4, 2015, was found to have a blood stain with Johnson's genetic profile. A bloody shoe print matching the slip-ons found in the dumpster next to Falkowski's trailer were stained with Johnson's blood.
Johnson's body was discovered Aug. 5, 2014. He had been stabbed 71 times.
At trial a witness testified that Falkowski handed him "bloody money" the night of Aug. 4, 2015, or in the first hours of Aug. 5, 2015, which she hoped to exchange for crack cocaine. The facts of the case mirrored those of a murder in Missouri which Falkowski served time for committing in that state after pleading guilty to murder and armed criminal action in 1998.
Falkowski stabbed a man to death in St. Louis, left his body in a car in an alley, disposed of bloody clothing in a dumpster and then used crack cocaine, according to testimony at her 2021 trial in Bowie County. Falkowski received a 12-year term in Missouri.
On appeal of her Bowie County conviction, Falkowski complained that the jury should have received an instruction from the trial judge to disregard her 2019 confession to Texas Ranger Greg Wilson if they believed she made her statement involuntarily or under coercion. The higher court rejected Falkowski's arguments, noting that "Wilson's tone of voice was measured, calm, polite, and professional. He never raised his voice or acted intimidating in any way."
The appellate court further found that Wilson did not promise leniency or anything else when he asked Falkowski to "let me help you help Mr. Johnson" or when he expressed the opinion that judges and juries look more favorably on defendants who tell the truth.
Falkowski is being held in the Crain Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville, Texas. According to TDCJ's website, Falkowski will be eligible for parole in 2049. Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.