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Attorney will revive 'demons' defense in appeal

By JAMES V. HEALION

DANBURY, Conn. -- The attorney for a young man found guilty of stabbing his landlord to death says he will appeal the manslaughter conviction on grounds the devil was responsible for the crime.

Arne Cheyenne Johnson, 19, stood motionless Tuesday as a Superior Court jury returned a conviction for the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter in the Feb. 16 slaying of Brookfield kennel operator Alan Bono.

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Judge Robert J. Callahan, who had refused at the outset of the trial to allow the jury to hear defense arguments that Johnson was possessed by demons at the time of the crime, set sentencing for Dec. 18.

Johnson was originally charged with murder. With his conviction for manslaughter, he faces a minimum sentence of one to 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to a term as long as 10 to 20 years.

State's Attorney Walter D. Flanagan said the jury's verdict, returned after 17 hours of deliberations over three days, was 'a fair and just verdict.'

But defense attorney Martin Minnella said there was enough doubt in the case to allow the jury to acquit Johnson and said he would appeal.

He said he will ask a higher court to consider evidence that Johnson was a victim of demonic possession at the time of the slaying.

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'We were not allowed evidence that would have lent credence to our position. We created an awful lot of reasonable doubt,' said Minella. 'Arne is very disappointed. He thought he was going to go home today.'

Johnson's mother, a maid in a Bridgeport motel, said her son 'was railroaded' by the state, which charged Bono, 40, was stabbed to death by Johnson in a drunken brawl over the defendant's live-in girlfriend.

Mrs. Mary Johnson, visibly upset with the verdict, said she thought the jury's decision was 'very unfair. He was railroaded. We will appeal. He is innocent.'

Minnella claimed Johnson became possessed after he dared a demon to 'take him on' and leave the body Miss Glatzel's brother, David, 12, who reportedly had been behaving strangely, growling and hallucinating. Catholic priests had performed minor exorcisms on the youth.

Callahan steadily refused the demon arguments and later barred Minnella from calling priests and self-described demonologists as witnesses in the absence of the jury.

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