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Olney woman pleads guilty to shooting husband

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | December 20, 2022 7:00 AM

A tearful Kay Lynn Johnson pleaded guilty by way of an Alford plea Wednesday to a felony charge stemming from the alleged Sept. 23 shooting of her husband in Olney.

Johnson, 64, faced one count of assault with a weapon in Flathead County District Court in the wake of the incident. She opted to change her plea after signing an agreement with prosecutors Dec. 6. In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains their innocence while acknowledging a jury likely would convict them based on the evidence.

Clutching a tissue, Johnson conceded the prospect of a jury returning with a guilty verdict was “a possibility” between sobs as she answered questions at the Dec. 7 hearing.

As per the terms of the agreement, prosecutors will recommend she serve a 10-year sentenced with the state Department of Corrections with five years suspended. They also will recommend she be placed in the state’s Passages program, a community-based correctional facility for women.

Deputies with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office arrested Johnson after responding to a report of a shooting in Olney and found her husband suffering a gunshot wound to his stomach. According to court documents, Johnson initially told authorities that she shot her husband while he beat her.

Johnson allegedly later admitted to pulling the gun out during an argument in the hopes of convincing him to change his mind. The gun went off when he grabbed it, she said, according to court documents, and then he attacked her.

Then-hospitalized, her husband offered a different account, telling investigators he was working in his shop when he turned around and saw her pointing a gun at him, court documents said. Clayton Johnson told the court during a subsequent bail modification hearing that if he had failed to wrestle the gun away from her during the ensuing scuffle she would have killed him.

“I knew if I didn’t get that gun out of her hands, I wouldn’t be here today,” he told Judge Robert Allison on Oct. 13.

Kay Johnson has remained in the county jail with bail set at $100,000 since her arrest.

Following Johnson’s plea change, Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard offered no questions. Allison likewise had no follow up inquiries. He accepted the plea change and found her guilty by way of Alford.

Allison set sentencing for Jan. 25.