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Johnson pleads guilty to manslaughter
By Christa Jennings
Helene Stowes Johnson
More than a year after her arrest, Helene Stowes Johnson has now pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case of her daughter’s homicide.
Johnson pleaded guilty in court last Friday, August 13. She is expected to be sentenced next month.
Johnson, 61 years old of Dadeville, was initially arrested on May 17, 2020, in connection to Coosa County’s second murder of the year. She was originally charged with murder in the case of her daughter’s death.
At that time, it was reported that 39-year-old Latosha Stowes died in a residence on County Road 86 early the morning of May 17, with a report of assault being made at 1:45 that morning. Reportedly, a disagreement between the mother and daughter is what ultimately resulted in Stowes’ death by stabbing.
At the time, when deputies arrived on the scene, they found four individuals at the residence, including Johnson and Stowes. Stowes was reportedly in one of the rooms and had apparent stab wounds.
Johnson was arrested on the scene and officially charged with her daughter’s murder. At the time it was reported that it was believed that what led to Stowes’ death was an argument between the two that turned fatal.
Johnson has been held in custody at the Coosa County Jail in Rockford since then with a bond of $125,000.
While she was originally charged with murder, Johnson pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which carries a lighter sentence.
Generally, a homicide is classified as manslaughter if the suspect’s actions may have been reckless or influenced by the heat of passion. In manslaughter cases, the individual did not have a preconceived intention of killing the victim.
Per the Code of Alabama, Section 13A-6-3, manslaughter is defined as when a person “recklessly causes the death of another person, or causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder (Section 13A-6-2); except that he causes the death due to a sudden heat of passion caused by provocation recognized by law, and before a reasonable time for passion to cool and for reason to reassert itself.”
With Stowes’ death being reported as the outcome of an argument, it was considered to be murder committed in the heat of passion.
Manslaughter is a Class B felony and can carry a sentence of up to $30,000 and between two and 20 years of imprisonment.