NEW BOSTON, Texas — A witness testified Thursday that the defendant in a Bowie County murder trial attempted to buy crack cocaine from him with blood-soaked money hours before the body of a 71-year-old man was discovered.
The witness testified that he isn't a drug dealer but was considered a "go to guy" by Shirley Ann Falkowski. Falkowski, 56, is accused of stabbing James Earl Johnson to death sometime before noon Aug. 5, 2015.
Desmond Griffin testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter that he returned home after being out for dinner and a movie with his girlfriend and was walking into his home when Falkowski showed up in a white car and thrust some bills into his hand. Griffin said he asked Falkowski about the "bloody money" and that she claimed it was ketchup.
"It had that sticky feeling to it," Griffin said. "I didn't believe her when she said it was ketchup."
Griffin said he gave the money back to Falkowski and estimated her visit occurred sometime late on the night of Aug. 4, 2015, or in the first hours of Aug. 5, 2015.
Johnson's body was discovered around noon Aug. 5, 2015, in his apartment on Oak Street in DeKalb, Texas. A Dallas medical examiner testified Wednesday that Johnson suffered a total of 71 cuts to his body including 16 stab wounds and 55 incised wounds.
The owner of a white Pontiac Grand Am, Joseph Young, testified Wednesday that he lent Falkowski his car to move some belongings Aug. 4 and that she did not return the car for a couple of days. A DNA analyst with the state crime lab testified Thursday that a spot of blood found in the car was a match for Johnson's genetic profile.
On Wednesday jurors watched video from an ATM machine in DeKalb which showed Falkowski in the white Grand Am attempting to withdraw cash with Johnson's debit card. Falkowski was unable to withdraw any money because she did not have the correct PIN.
Johnson's DNA was also found on a pair of white, slip-on, ladies shoes, size seven-and-a-half, that were recovered from a plastic grocery sack found in a dumpster next to the trailer where Falkowski was living. The analyst testified that she was unable to acquire a genetic profile from the shoes matching anyone but Johnson and that Falkowski's profile was not found on any of the evidence submitted.
Thursday the jury watched a Feb. 12, 2019, videotaped interview of Falkowski with Texas Ranger Greg Wilson during which she confessed to killing Johnson.
The recorded confession came after Wilson confronted Falkowski with the DNA evidence allegedly linking her to the murder. Shortly into the interview with Wilson in an office at the DeKalb Police Department, Falkowski asked to speak to her father, who was waiting outside the office.
"I did it Dad," Falkowski said. "I took Piggy's life."
Piggy is a nickname affectionately used to refer to Johnson by his friends.
Assistant Public Defender Sylvia Delgado alluded in her cross examination of Wilson that Falkowski's confession was coerced. She pointed out in her questioning that Falkowski did not describe throwing the shoes into the dumpster and simply answered in the affirmative when Wilson asked. Delgado asked Wilson if Falkowski's confession came only after he reminded her of a previous murder conviction in Missouri for which she was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1998.
Wilson also noted that Falkowski's appearance had changed in the years between her first interview with law enforcement in 2015 and her second in 2019. Wilson attributed the change to an alleged reduction in drug use.
Delgado said in her opening statement Wednesday that she expects Falkowski to testify and explain why she confessed to a crime she is now claiming she did not commit.
Fifth District Judge Bill Miller released the jury shortly after 5 p.m. with instructions to return to the Bowie County courthouse Friday morning. If convicted of Johnson's murder, Falkowski faces five to 99 years or life in a Texas prison.