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A judge Wednesday threw out the 'demon defense' of...

By JAMES V. HEALION

DANBURY, Conn. -- A judge Wednesday threw out the 'demon defense' of a murder defendant who claimed claimed he was possessed by the devil when he stabbed a friend to death.

'I'm not going to allow the defense of demonic possession,' Superior Court Judge Robert J. Callahan told lawyers for Arne Cheyenne Johnson on the opening day of Johnson's trial.

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'Evidence of demonic possession is simply not relevant.'

Defense attorney Martin J. Minnella said earlier he planned to prove that Johnson, 20, was possessed by the devil when he fatally stabbed his friend and landlord, Alan Bono, 40, of Brookfield on Feb. 16.

The lawyer told the judge he intended to call Catholic priests to the witness stand because part of church dogma states 'there is such thing as demonic possession and it does in fact exist.'

But Callahan said testimony regarding religious beliefs about demonic possession would not be reliable and would mislead members of the jury.

'It would be incompetent evidence and I would not allow it,' Callahan said after removing prospective jurors from the courtroom.

The exchange followed questioning of the first of 76 prospective jurors. The defense was granted a recess after the judge's ruling.

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Had Callahan agreed to allow the 'demon defense,' some legal observers predicted it would have set a precedent for others to use and would hamstring law enforcement.

Johnson arrived at the courthouse in a van from the Bridgeport Correctional Center where he is being held in lieu of $125,000 bond. He seemed to flash a smile when a woman called from a knot of bystanders and well-wishers, 'Cheyenne, I love you, sweetheart.'

Robert Johnson, 16, the suspect's step-brother who is a high school sophomore, said he skipped classes to attend the first day of the trial.

'He was everything a brother could be,' Robert Johnson said of his relative whom he hasn't seen in four years. 'He taught me a lot.'

Minnella said Johnson, who performed odd jobs, became possessed a year before the murder when he was living with the parents of his girlfriend, Debbie Glatzel, 26, and her 12-year-old brother.

When the boy began suffering from visions of a dark figure with cloven hoofs, Minnella says Johnson assumed it was the devil and challenged the apparition to 'take me on.' The lawyer claims the spirit obliged.

Authorities said the stabbing took place at Johnson's Brookfield apartment where Bono, Miss Glatzel, Johnson were having lunch.

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When Bono, a kennel manager, made an obscene reference to Ms. Glatzel, witnesses said Johnson became enraged. The two men scuffled and Bono was stabbed, police said.

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