James Johnson, 21, remains jailed on two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of armed robbery and single counts of false imprisonment, aggravated assault, sexual battery and kidnapping, each with a $250,000 bond attached, following his April 9 arrest in the allegedly act of raping a woman inside her Hickory Street home and subsequent confession or identification in a Panola Street home invasion and a Mid-City rape.
At the time of Johnson’s arrest, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas expressed frustration that Johnson was already on parole for a conviction of attempted armed robbery when the rash of home invasions and rapes began. “He’s been in court, he’s been found guilty of a crime, he made an agreement to be a good man in our community, and yet he couldn’t,” Serpas said at the time.
In a brief court hearing Tuesday morning, an attorney for Johnson asked Judge Harry Cantrell to order that Johnson continue to be held in Orleans Parish, rather than moved to a state prison. Often, when defendants violate their parole, they are taken back into the custody of the state Department of Corrections even if they have new open cases pending, said attorney Sierra Thompson, appearing on behalf of Johnson’s attorney, Amanda Fraser.
In this case, however, Fraser needs Johnson to remain in Orleans Parish so that they can continue consulting with him as he assists in his own defense, Thompson said. Defense attorneys wouldn’t oppose his being taken to another jurisdiction for a hearing on the parole issues, Thompson said, but want him to be brought back to Orleans Parish as a sort of “home base” afterward as his trial continues here.
The aggravated rape charges Johnson is facing in the Hickory Street and Mid-City cases carry a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.
After reviewing a written motion in the case, Cantrell made the order as requested. Johnson’s next hearing is set for May 21.