TEXARKANA, Texas —A murder trial concerning the 2015 stabbing death of a DeKalb, Texas, man is being delayed because the defendant has the flu.
Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning at the Bowie County Courthouse in New Boston for Shirley Ann Falkowski. Falkowski, 54, is accused in the August 2015 death of James Earl Johnson.
Falkowski's case was set on Fifth District Judge Bill Miller's afternoon docket Monday for a pretrial hearing in advance of jury selection. Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter said jail staff informed her and Assistant Public Defender Sylvia Delgado, who represents Falkowski, of Falkowski's illness. A decision was made to delay the trial so as not to spread the illness and so that Falkowski will be in good health and able to assist Delgado in presenting her defense before a jury.
Falkowski has been in jail since February 2019. Bowie County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jeff Neal said that the jail has only identified three cases of flu over the past month and that Falkowski is the only detainee currently exhibiting symptoms.
Falkowski allegedly confessed, during an interview in February 2019 with Texas Rangers, that she stabbed James Earl Johnson in his DeKalb, Texas, apartment in August 2015, according to a probable cause affidavit. Members of the DeKalb Police Department requested assistance in the investigation from the Texas Rangers after Johnsons's body was discovered Aug. 5, 2015.
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. on Aug. 5, 2015, while driving a white Pontiac sedan.
Texas Rangers tracked down the car and learned from the owner that 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 to make the purchase because the personal identification number she had for the card did not work. Falkowski was reinterviewed Feb. 12, 2019. During that interview, she 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 she 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 five to 99 years or life if convicted of murder in Texas.