21ºF

Pontiac man accused of fatally beating wife with hammer arraigned on open murder charge

Karen Leanna Johnson pronounced dead Jan. 31

photo

PONTIAC, Mich. – A 55-year-old Pontiac man was arraigned Friday on an open murder charge after he was accused of fatally beating his wife with a hammer over a request for a divorce, police said.

Johnson’s wife, Karen, asked Johnson for money to put toward a divorce Thursday night, police said. Johnson became upset and began beating his wife with a hammer, causing critical injuries, officials said.

Patrick Lee Johnson was arrested Jan. 19 in connection with the attack, and he was arraigned Jan. 20 on attempted murder charges.

Officials amended the assault with intent to murder warrant to a murder charge when Karen Leanna Johnson was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. Jan 31. The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide.

“I mean, he had hit her with a hammer over and over and over,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. “It's difficult for me to understand how you can at one point profess to love someone, and then at some point in your life take a hammer to them.”

READPontiac man charged with trying to kill his wife with hammer

A neighbor said police are frequently seen at the couple’s home, and that they’re known in the neighborhood for their domestic disputes.

"I believe it was a domestic situation," neighbor Elida Anderlie said. "There was a lot of screaming and yelling. There was a lot of throwing things, banging on the cars, screaming. But it didn't last very long. The cops came right away."

"You should never hit someone like that, just break up and move on," Bouchard said.

Johnson has two prior charges: one for making threats and another for assault.

Johnson is being held without bond and is scheduled to return to court Feb. 16 for a probable cause conference.

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit breaking news alerts and email newsletters