Hamden woman accused of killing boyfriend appears in court
By WFSB Staff
HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -
A woman from Hamden accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death appeared in court Tuesday morning.
Rita Johnson, 51, was arrested Saturday after police said she stabbed 44-year-old Lavern Brown with a steak knife in the chest.
According to arrest papers, Johnson ran out of their Goodrich Street apartment after the stabbing and was found by officers a few streets away covered in blood. She asked officers if she killed her boyfriend and if he was dead.
Brown pleaded with his girlfriend to take him to a hospital and was found covered in blood in the second floor stairwell of the building. He was taken to an area hospital where he died.
"I wish she'd just rot in hell, she don't even need a bond," said the victim's aunt Francene Brown after Johnson's court appearance.
Johnson, who has been charged with murder, told detectives that Brown and her got into a verbal argument over alcohol and he called her a derogatory name before hitting her. Johnson then grabbed a knife out a drawer and stabbed Brown.
However, Brown's family thinks the argument was over something else.
"It was cold hearted. This was over money," Francene Brown said. "She wanted money to get high. Go let her get a job."
Brown and Johnson lived together for several years and spent many holidays together with both families.
"From Rita's whole family, including Rita, we just want to say I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Elizabeth Taylor said. "If there's anything we can do to make it easier please let us know."
Brown's family said he was a father of four and a cook at Quinnipiac University for 17 years.
"We're not condoning what happened. We're very sorry," Taylor said. "I'm extremely sorry for his mother. I've been in her position before I know how she feels."
Johnson's family said she is in denial.
"She doesn't believe Vern is gone," Taylor said. "It hasn't worn off."
Police said the stabbing is a case of domestic violence
"Over the summer, she hit him in the head with an iron," Francene Brown said.
Taylor said she knew that Brown and Johnson had gotten into arguments previously.
"I was never told who was abusive in the situation," she said.
Johnson, who was not working and is disabled, has eight prior convictions including larceny, forgery and three failure to appear charges. She is being held on $750,000 bond and her case was transferred to Superior Court in New Haven.
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