Josh Johnson, the New Blaine man being held in the Logan County Detention Center in Paris in connection with the Wednesday, March 19 shooting death of his ex-wife, Lora Karras, 30, of Scranton, was formally charged with first degree murder Friday by the 15th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
In a hearing that took place at the jail shortly before noon, Johnson’s bond was set at $1 million by 15th Judicial District Circuit Judge Jerry Don Ramey of Dardanelle. Johnson was present at the bond hearing. First degree murder is a Class Y felony punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison or life in prison. A plea and arraignment hearing has been set for 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 11 at the Logan County Courthouse in Paris.
Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Gack said last Thursday that Johnson told him “I just snapped.”
When a deputy, responding to a 911 call made from Karras’ home, arrived at the scene, Johnson surrendered without incident. Authorities believe Johnson killed Karras with a 12-gauge shotgun. The home is located on Rodeo Arena Road.
Gack also said he believed alcohol played a role in the incident.
“Alcohol was a factor,” Gack said. “He’d been drinking. I feel like it played a part. He’s made statements that he’d been drinking and there was evidence found at his home to support that.”
Gack said Johnson has been “very cooperative” since his arrest.
Deputies were called to the residence at 4:09 p.m. last Wednesday. The 911 call reporting a shooting was made by Karras’ 15-year-old daughter, according to Deputy Sheriff David Spicer said. Karras’ other two children — an 11-year-old and a nine-year old — were also at home. Gack said the children were inside the residence at the time of the shooting.
“I talked to the 15-year-old and she told me she saw dad pull up in a pick up truck, get out with a shotgun and shots were fired,” Gack said.
Gack said the children, who were not harmed, are with relatives.
Karras’ body was found inside a garage. Investigators recovered a 12-gauge shotgun, several shells and three spent rounds of ammunition, Gack and Spicer said. Gack said there were two rounds in the gun when it was checked by officers. A red Dodge pickup truck belonging to Johnson was also taken from the scene. Johnson’s residence was searched last Wednesday night, Spicer said.
Gack said Karras was hit in her upper torso. Her body was taken to the Arkansas Crime Lab last Thursday morning for an autopsy.
Gack said Johnson has told him he was in the Marines but inactive. Gack added “I believe he’s been on two or three tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.”