The Washington Post

Man sentenced for killing teen at party


A young Florida man convicted of killing a 13-year-old friend during a sleepover five years ago apologized at his sentencing and denounced a militant Islamic group that his lawyers claimed influenced his thinking. The judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo denied a request to have Corey Johnson spend 40 years in jail for the killing of Jovanni Sierra, saying rehabilita­tion is unlikely because of Johnson’s willingnes­s to kill for radical views.

“I know I contribute­d to the spread of evil in this world,” Johnson, now 21, told the court, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Jurors found Johnson guilty in November of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for the stabbing attack during the victim’s birthday sleepover at his best friend’s home in Palm Beach Gardens.

Johnson, 17 at the time, was offended by a remark Sierra had made about his newly declared faith, prosecutor­s said. He also stabbed Elaine Simon, who owned the home where the party took place, and Dane Bancroft, her younger son, who was Sierra’s best friend.

Defense attorneys did not dispute that Johnson, whose online behavior had drawn the attention of the FBI, had done “unspeakabl­e damage.” But they said Johnson had become “psychotic and delusional,” which they blamed on severe

depression, prescripti­on medication­s and watching ISIS videos.

Johnson met Sierra for the first time at the birthday party. He had accompanie­d his friend, Kyle Bancroft, Dane’s older brother,

according to police. Dane Bancroft and Sierra attended middle school together. Simon told police that Johnson had visited her home often, and that he and her older son had been friends since day care.

Prosecutor­s said the stabbings began after everyone had gone to sleep. Johnson hid in a closet after the attacks and police used tear gas to eventually subdue him, records show.

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