Murderer of UA prof sentenced to death

By Zach Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 27, 1996

Beau John Greene did not flinch as Pima County Superior Court Judge Bernardo Velasco imposed the death sentence on him for the 1995 murder of UA music professor Roy A. Johnson.

Johnson's widow Stardust Johnson, however, was visibly emotional and shaken after the sentence was pronounced.

Velasco told a packed courtroom that evidence indicated "the defendant premeditated the murder of Roy Johnson" and that he "enjoyed the act of killing."

Velasco sentenced Greene to 393/4 consecutive years in prison on top of the death penalty for one count each of kidnapping, robbery, theft, and six counts of forgery.

"I feel it was an appropriate sentence," said Deputy Pima County Attorney Rick Unklesbay, the prosecutor of the case, although he added that he felt no satisfaction with the resolution of this particular case.

John Greene, the defendant's father, later told reporters his son "wasn't represented very well" and called the effect on the families "tragic on both sides."

Greene, 29, was convicted March 15 for Johnson's February 1995 beating death, after admitting to the killing during the trial.

The professor, who disappeared Feb. 28, 1995, after performing a concert in Green Valley, was found dead four days later, lying face-down in a wash near West Ajo Way and South Sandario Road.

During those four days, Greene purchased groceries, camping equipment and electronics components with Johnson's credit cards and was spotted ditching the professor's car in the desert near San Xavier del Bac Mission. He was arrested March 2 at a campsite near Interstate 19.

During the criminal trial, Greene testified that Johnson offered him money for sexual favors and that he initially agreed but later "freaked out." Greene, who said he was coming down from a methamphetamine high at the time, testified that he punched Johnson three or four times, killing him.

Pima County Forensic Pathologist Andrew Sibley later testified during the trial that Greene's statements were not plausible.

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

During the trial, Johnson's widow also disputed Greene's allegations of sexual advances, calling them "preposterous."

Unklesbay said the next step in the case is an automatic appeal to the Arizona State Supreme Court and that judgment would likely be rendered in two or three years.

Johnson, 58 at the time of his death, had been a music professor at the University of Arizona for 29 years. A memorial fund in his name was established with the Tucson Community Foundation.