Witness: Marlene Johnson a 'raging animal,' threatened to kill Shirley Pierce in 2011

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A witness to an event that happened in 2011 said that Marlene Johnson was acting like a "raging animal" when she attacked Shirley Pierce in the parking lot of the Parkway House restaurant in Concord in 2011.

Johnson is currently on trial in Salisbury, charged with the July, 2013, murder of Pierce.

Johnson was convicted of the 2011 assault on Pierce.  That conviction was appealed, but the appeal has not been heard.

Prosecutors say that Johnson killed Pierce because she was convinced that Pierce was having an affair with her estranged husband.  That man, Ervin Johnson, was CFO of Tuscarora Yarns.

Investigators say they have not uncovered any evidence of such an affair.

Amy Christy worked as a waitress at the Parkway House in 2011.  In court on Friday, Christy testified on behalf of the prosecution.

Christy said that a group of 6-8 employees that included Ervin Johnson and Shirley Pierce had lunch every Friday at the Parkway House.

Christy said that Marlene Johnson approached her by phone and in person offering to pay her to hide cameras in the room where the group met in order to collect evidence that Pierce was having an affair with Ervin Johnson.

In her testimony, Christy said that she refused Johnson's offer, even though Johnson said that "money was not an issue."

She testified that on February 11, 2011, the Tuscarora group was eating lunch at the restaurant when Johnson came in and sat at a booth.  Christy said that she thought Johnson was trying to hide her face behind a menu.

While Christy was recounting that moment, in court, Johnson began to sob loudly

Continuing her testimony, Christy said that she told the Tuscarora group that Johnson was in the restaurant.  She said that Ervin Johnson got up and left the restaurant.  Minutes later, the other employees "formed a circle" around Shirley Pierce and started to walk out.

As the group was exiting the restaurant, Marlene Johnson "plowed through the group and attacked Miss Shirley," Christy said.

"Marlene Johnson threw Shirley Pierce up against a car...they went to the ground, she was beating Miss Shirley," Christy said.

Christy testified that Johnson was "punching, screaming, yelling," and that Johnson yelled at Pierce, saying "I'm going to kill you for (expletive deleted) my husband."

Christy said that she then pulled Marlene Johnson off of Shirley Pierce while others called the police and EMS.

Christy described Johnson as acting like a "raging animal."

Under cross examination by defense attorney Jay White, Christy said that there were things about that day that she could not remember, such as the names of everyone in the Tuscarora group.

As White asked her to name the members of the party, she said that she didn't know them all by names, but as "Greek salad, no onions," and other menu items that the individuals would order.

White also asked Christy why, in prior statements to police about the Concord assault, she had not previously mentioned the threat she says Johnson made to kill Pierce.

"I didn't think it was relevant to an assault case," Christy said.

Both Marlene Johnson and Shirley Pierce have family in friends in the courtroom, and many have been in court for the length of the trial.  Many of those supporting Pierce are wearing buttons with her picture.

Johnson could face life in prison if convicted.

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