MASON CITY, Iowa – A judge has ruled that a man who admits to murdering his mother in 2008 should not receive a different sentence or a new trial.
Jordan Johnson, 29, is serving a life sentence for the 2008 conviction of first degree murder in the death of Rita Seely, and the kidnapping of his stepfather, Phil Seely on January 19, 2008. He admitted to killing his mother with a hatchet and locking Phil Seely in their home’s basement. During the trial, the defense argued that because of schizophrenia and other mental health issues, Johnson did not know right from wrong.
Johnson appealed and asked that new statements from two psychiatrists regarding his mental illness be considered. His defense team also argues that his counsel during the 2008 trial was ineffective by failing to fully explore the nature of his mental illness. Judge DeDra Schroeder heard testimony, including a nonsensical, nine-minute statement from Johnson on May 20. She issued her ruling denying Johnson’s request for post-conviction relief Wednesday.
In her ruling, Schroeder states that one doctor’s testimony does not provide new information.
“Rather,” Schroeder states, “he bolsters the testimony of individuals who testified at trial. The jury heard expert testimony from both sides at trial and was free to believe any of that testimony. The jury chose to believe the state’s expert.”