Greene found guilty; prof's killer could face death penalty

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 18, 1996

Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Defense attorney David Alan Darby cross examines Pima County Forensic Pathologist Andrew Sibley last week. Sibley disputed Beau John Greene's testimony that he beat UA professor Roy Johnson to death with his bare fists.


Beau John Greene may face the death penalty after being found guilty Friday of beating UA music professor Roy A. Johnson to death last year.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Rick Unkelsbay said he will push for a death sentence and will present evidence in support of that goal at Greene's sentencing.

"I feel the murder was committed in a heinous and very depraved manner," he said.

It took the jury less than three hours to find Greene, 29, guilty on one count of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty on one count each for kidnapping, robbery and theft, and six counts of forgery in the trial that began March 6.

Pima County Superior Court Justice Bernardo Velasco was out of town when the verdict was read, but will set Greene's sentencing hearing today.

At a briefing held for the media at the University of Arizona's Holsclaw Hall Friday, Johnson's family members said the verdict put an end to attacks on the slain professor's character.

"The jury completely rejected the slanderous remarks of a murderer," said Johnson's wife, Stardust.

Greene admitted last week to killing Johnson, testifying that he had been approached by the professor in a park and was offered money in exchange for sexual favors.

The family had called the allegations "preposterous."

"A vicious murder occurred and Roy Johnson's character went on trial," Stardust Johnson said.

"This has been a journey through hell," she said. "It is ample evidence of what happens to victims in America. If it can happen to Roy Johnson, who was loved, this means it can happen to anyone."

Johnson's son, Eric, said, "We as a family would like to see Greene receive the maximum allowable (sentence)."

Johnson disappeared Feb. 28, 1995, after performing in a concert at a Green Valley church. His body was found four days later, face-down in a wash just off West Ajo Way and South Sandario Road.

Within 24 hours of Johnson's disappearance, Greene purchasing items such as groceries, a television, a VCR and camping gear with Johnson's credit cards. The next night Greene was seen deserting Johnson's 1993 Ford Taurus about five miles southwest of the San Xavier del Bac mission. He was arrested a day later at a campsite just off Interstate 19.

Greene testified that he went with the 59-year-old professor because he needed the money, but later changed his mind. He said he "freaked out" when Johnson touched his knee, beating the professor to death with his bare fists. Greene said he had been comin g off of a five-day high and had not eaten or slept in a week.

Unkelsbay told jurors he did not know how Greene got into Johnson's car. Family members said they felt Johnson was carjacked. During the initial investigation last year, Greene's fingerprints were found all over the inside of the Taurus, which Unkelsbay s aid proved that Greene had been in the car.

Defense attorney David Alan Darby said Johnson's sexual advances had been the "trigger" in this case. He used the defendant's testimony to ask jurors to return a manslaughter verdict rather than convict Greene of first-degree murder.

Unkelsbay said the issue of Johnson's sexuality had nothing to do with the trial.

"It makes not one bit of difference," Unkelsbay told jurors during his closing argument Thursday. In an interview Friday he said, "For me, that was not an issue in this trial."

Pima County Forensic Pathologist Andrew Sibley disputed the defense's argument that Greene had fractured Johnson's skull with his bare fist. Johnson had suffered four fractures on three sides of his head.

"Mike Tyson could not have produced the type of injuries Mr. Johnson sustained," Sibley testified. "The bones of the fist would shatter long before the skull fractured."

Sibley testified that a broad-surfaced blunt object was used to kill Johnson. He pointed out that there had been no cuts in the skin above the fracture points, which led him to believe that a smooth club or the side of a brick was used.

Johnson was a professor of organ within the university's School of Music for 29 years and spent most of his time working to improve the music program, teaching students and performing locally, Stardust Johnson said.

A memorial fund in Johnson's name was established with the Tucson Community Foundation using the car's insurance money, she said. The funds will be used to complete work on the organ in Holsclaw Hall.

Remaining funds may create music scholarships for organ students. She said a similar fund has been established through the Johnson's church, Northminster Presbyterian.