Trial for murder of UA prof begins

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 7, 1996

Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Beau John Greene is distracted from his trial Wednesday by the media coverage. Greene is charged with the murder of UA music Professor Roy Andrew Johnson that occurred last spring.


Stardust Johnson told a packed courtroom yesterday that her husband, UA music Professor Roy A. Johnson, said he would be home by 10 p.m. the night he disappeared last year.

She said she did not worry, at first.

"He always did what he said he was going to do," she said.

So when he failed to return home the night of Feb. 28, 1995 after a concert in Green Valley, Mrs. Johnson said she became overwhelmed with the feeling that she would never see her husband again.

Mrs. Johnson took the stand after lawyers for the prosecution and defense made their opening statements in the trial of Beau John Greene, 28, accused of kidnapping and beating the University of Arizona professor to death last year.

Greene is charged with first-degree murder and felony counts of kidnapping, theft, robbery and forgery.

A jury of seven men and eight women listened as Mrs. Johnson choked back tears and recounted the frantic night of her husband's disappearance. She told them she did not attend the concert Johnson was performing in at the Presbyterian church. She said her husband had told her he was only "accompanying" UA music Professor Keith Johnson.

He told her it was all right if she did not attend. Mrs. Johnson said that at the dinner they shared before the concert she asked him to come home at the intermission, but he said he would "stay to support his colleagues."

Assistant Pima County Attorney Rick Unkelsbay told the jury during his opening statement that investigators do not know how Greene allegedly got Johnson to stop his car or how Greene allegedly got into the car.

The gray 1993 Ford Taurus was discovered in a desert area about five miles southwest of the San Xavier del Bac mission. Johnson's badly beaten body was discovered several days later near West Ajo Way, just off South Sandario Road.

Unkelsbay said, however, that upon examination, the defendant's fingerprints were found "all over the car."

The inside of the car had been muddied, he said, and blood was found on the front and back seats, which led investigators to believe Johnson had been forcibly detained and beaten inside the vehicle.

The theft of the car and the robbery of Johnson's personal items, such as his credit cards, led to the other charges, Unkelsbay said. Greene's forgery charges stem from several purchases he allegedly made with Johnson's Visa and Mastercard.

David A. Darby, Greene's lawyer, urged the jury during his statement to wait until all evidence had been heard before deciding his client's fate.

"If you make up your mind before, you will have violated your oath," he told them.

Darby said the burden of proof rests on the prosecution and that his client does not have to prove anything. He told the jury that "there are a lot of people here" who will be waiting for its decision.

"I've been doing this for a long time and I've never seen this many people in a Pima County courtroom before for opening statements," Darby said, pointing at the more than 100 spectators crowding the small courtroom.

Witnesses for the prosecution identified Greene as the individual who made several purchases with Johnson's credit cards within the first 24 hours after the professor's disappearance.

Greene allegedly purchased a VCR and groceries at the Super K-Mart at Interstate 19 and Valencia Road and purchased camping equipment at the Super K-Mart at Ina and Thornydale roads.

One witness testified Greene had purchased pornographic material at the Tropicana Hotel on North Miracle Mile Road. Another said he had purchased Oakley sunglasses at Harley Davidson of Tucson at 22nd Street and Craycroft Road.

All had testified they had were able to identify Greene because the defendant allegedly had bandaged his right hand with white gauze. Because of the alleged "injury" to his hand, the witnesses said they did not question the difference between his signature and Johnson's signature that appeared on the back of the cards.

The trial is expected to last eight days spread over the next three weeks.