DANBURY, Conn. -- A young man whose attorney claims he was possessed by a demon was indicted on murder charges Thursday in the knife-slaying of a kennel keeper who was his close friend and landlord.
Arne Johnson, 19, a lanky, quiet young man with curly blonde hair and a previously spotless police record, will stand trial in a case his attorney said would test 'the existence of the devil.'
The attorney, Martin Minnella, said he will present the first demonic possession defense in the annals of American jurispudence.
As Johnson left court to return to jail, his girlfriend, Deborah Glatzel, 26, called out softly, 'Arne, I love you.'
Miss Gladzel and two of Johnson's teen-age sisters were present Feb. 16 when he allegedly slashed to death Alan Bono, 40, the owner of a kennel in Brookfield, Conn., where Johnson did jobs and rented an upstairs apartment.
The 18-member grand jury in Danbury Superior Court heard secret testimony from six witnesses and reviewed a report from the state's medical examiner before returning the murder indictment.
Minnella said he expected to call as witnesses a number of Roman Catholic priests who performed 'minor exorcisms' for a young boy, some of which Johnson attended.
'I hope there will be enough moral consciousness among them when the time comes that they will come forward and testify in open court,' Minnella said.
Johnson lived at the same house with the supposedly possessed boy at the time and, according to two psychic researchers looking into the case, challenged the demon 'to take me on. My mind is stronger than his.'
Minnella said he would file 'a multitude' of pre-trial motions and did not expect a trial to start for six or eight months.
State's Attorney Walter D. Flanagan said the state considered the Bono slaying a simple homicide case.
Johnson was charged with murder Feb. 19 and has been held in lieu of $125,000 bond at the Bridgeport Correctional Center. In Connecticut, a grand jury indictment is required in murder cases before a defendant is scheduled for trial.
On the day of the killing, Johnson apparently was enraged over an obscene remark Bono made during a luncheon he attended with Miss Glatzel and his two sisters. The men argued in Johnson's apartment, then went outdoors and scuffled.
One minute Bono was pounding his hand in his fist and yelling; the next he was on the ground with multiple stab wounds, Miss Glatzel said.
Police recovered a knife with a five-inch blade belonging to Johnson, Miss Glatzel said she stood between the men and never saw a knife.
The six who testified before the grand jury were Johnson's cousin, Mary Tennant, 9; his two sisters, Janice Johnson, 11, and Wanda Johnson, 15; the two Brookfield Police Department officers who responded to the scene, Detective Sgt. John Lucas and Special Officer Norman Ellis; and Miss Glatzel.
Psychic researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren, personally and professionally involved in the case, were among the spectators Thursday. Mrs. Warren said she expected to be called as a witness.
She said in an interview she and her husband, authors with Gerald Brittle of 'The Demonologists,' a current book on their 30-year career, were friends with the defendant because of his association in a so-called 'possession' case.
Mrs. Warren said the case involved an 11-year-old Brookfield boy who last July began behaving abnormally, screaming, doubling up in pain, using vile language and quoting from John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'
The boy reported seeing an elderly man in a tattered shirt with cloven hoofs who turned black at night. He also demonstrated superhuman strength, Mrs. Warren said, and claimed to have been strangled by invisible hands and being flung across a room by an unseen force.
She said the boy had been examined by psychiatrists -- a requirement prior to the Catholic ritual of exorcism being conducted, which she said was in fact performed. Nine months later, she said, the boy was 'still under attack' and is not institutionalized but remains at home.
She said Johnson lived with the boy's family at the time and was aware of the events and challenged the alleged presence to 'take me on. My mind is stronger than his.'
Mrs. Warren said she and her husband knew it was 'inevitable' some tragedy would befall the household.