Trial of woman accused of killing her estranged husband's assistant to begin Monday

Trial of woman accused of killing her estranged husband's assistant to begin Monday
Pierce (Submitted photo)
Pierce (Submitted photo)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Marlene Johnson, accused of the brutal stabbing death of the woman who was her estranged husband's office assistant, will be on trial beginning on Monday in Rowan County Superior Court.

Johnson, 65, could face life in prison if convicted.

The incident happened in July, 2013.

The body of Shirley Pierce was found in the bathtub of her Kannapolis home by her fiance on July 23, 2013.

Within hours deputies had arrested Johnson.

According to court records filed prior to the alleged murder, Johnson believed that Pierce had an affair with Johnson's husband, Ervin Johnson, an executive at the textile company where Pierce worked.

Those records showed a history of trouble between the women dating back to 2007.

Those records also state that no evidence of an affair could be found.

Pierce had a restraining order taken out against Johnson that expired on June 13, 2013, just a few weeks before she was murdered, and in court District Attorney Brandy Cook noted "extremely erratic behavior" from Johnson in the days before the murder.

That behavior included a new revelation that Johnson had managed to get inside an apartment her husband had taken in Mecklenburg County, break out a glass window, and replace it with plexiglass sealed with velcro.

That allowed Johnson to get in and out of the apartment even after the locks had been changed.

Johnson was located and arrested on the same day of the murder.  Investigators found her at the office of her attorney at the Davis Law Firm.

Johnson was searched and detectives "observed numerous cuts and scratches on Marlene Johnson's hands, fingers, arms, and legs."

The warrant states that the wounds "appeared to be fresh and less than a day old and appeared consistent with injuries that would be sustained in a violent assault involving an edged weapon."

At that point Johnson was arrested and charged with the murder of Shirley Pierce.

Jury selection will begin on Monday.

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