SAN DIEGO -- A woman who shot her 14-year-old daughter and husband in the family's San Carlos condominium, then stayed with the bodies for three days before reporting their deaths, has been sentenced to 80 years to life in state prison. Regina Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Aaliyah and Reuben Johnson.
Regina Johnson, 60, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the May 30, 2012, deaths of Aaliyah Johnson and Reuben Johnson.
As she was sentenced Friday, Johnson continued to maintain her innocence, even shouting her argument at the judge.
"How can you sit there and say that I killed my daughter?" shouted Johnson. "Judge you are not a fair judge. You are not. You talk about the evidence -- you don’t even know what the evidence truly was."
Johnson continues to maintain that she was protecting her daughter, she even told this to Aaliyah in a letter she read in court.
"Aaliyah, you were my whole life. I loved you so much, but on that day when your dad took you away from me, I snapped. I took his life," said Johnson.
She also told her daughter about her struggle of understanding her conviction.
"Why am I guilty of taking your life? This court has never said why. How can you convict a mother for taking a daughter’s life? There’s not one ounce of evidence that would answer that question," said Johnson.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said the defendant and her daughter once had a good relationship, but circumstances in the house changed, and nobody really knew what was going on behind closed doors.
Johnson testified that she shot her 56-year-old spouse after he killed their daughter, but Rooney told jurors that "objective" physical evidence belied the defendant's story, from cell phone records that tracked her husband's movements to bullet trajectories and a jar of petroleum jelly that the teen was holding.
The prosecutor said the evidence showed that the defendant shot her daughter in the back of the head shortly after the girl took a shower and ate breakfast.
After her husband came home from a doctor's appointment and saw the body, the defendant shot him in the abdomen and then in the head, Rooney said.
The bodies "were left to rot for three days while she thought of a way to get away with it," Rooney said. "At the end of the day, she came up with a story she could live with."
The defendant was described as being depressed over the loss of her job and her failing marriage. Aaliyah, meanwhile, was growing up, becoming more assertive and had a boyfriend, bringing new distance in the West Hills High School freshman's relationship with her mother, according to trial testimony.
Rooney said Johnson's marriage was falling apart because of Regina's mental illness. She said Ruben even tried to help his wife, until the tragic end.
"He still loved her he still cared about her and he was worried about her he took her to doctor he took her to the hospital," said Rooney. "Ultimately he paid the price for it and a horrible price."
Ruben Johnson's family was not able to attend the sentencing Friday but sent letters asking the judge for the maximum punishment.
Debra Spinner, the victim's oldest sister wrote directly to Regina, telling about the family's pain.
"Our family accepted you with open arms, and this is what you do? There are no winners. Regina you have destroyed three families to which there are no do-overs," Spinner wrote. "As for Aaliyah, mother’s protect not kill."
In handing down the maximum sentence, Judge Joan Weber told the defendant that she was the only person who knows what really happened that day. "The one thing we know is that the story you told the jury was not what happened,'' the judge said.