Recording: Elgin murder suspect vowed to turn himself in if half-brother charged

  • Paul A. Johnson

    Paul A. Johnson

  • Lisa Koziol-Ellis

    Lisa Koziol-Ellis

 
 
Updated 5/15/2015 8:18 PM

Paul A. Johnson offered to turn himself in if Elgin police arrested his half-brother for the murder Lisa Koziol-Ellis, according to recording played in court Friday.

Johnson faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing Koziol-Ellis, 33, who was found by her husband at about 2:30 a.m. March 2, 2013. She had been stabbed more than 50 times in her townhouse, on the city's near west side.

 

Johnson's half-brother, Harry Dobrowolski, wore a hidden recording device on March 15, 2013, after Elgin police obtained a court order and talked with Johnson, who lived three doors down from Koziol-Ellis's townhouse in the Garden Quarter townhouse complex.

Dobrowolski, who died of a drug overdose in May 2014, complains on the recording that police are targeting him in the murder and may have bugged his phone.

"I told you they were going to lean on me hard," Dobrowolski says.

Johnson, whose voice was somewhat muffled at times on the recording as the two drove around town, says if police arrest Dobrowolski, "I will turn myself in, dude."

"I love you, bro," Dobrowolski replies.

Johnson's attorneys argue that it was Dobrowolski who killed Koziol-Ellis and out of "blind loyalty," and Johnson helped him clean up the crime scene.

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Kane County prosecutors say Johnson, a 36-year-old with a long criminal record, broke into the townhouse with a screwdriver and fought with Koziol-Ellis, ultimately killing her by stabbing her to death with a knife and screwdriver.

On the recording, Johnson tells Dobrowolski that he has nothing to worry about and if he is arrested, that Johnson will help if his half-brother is not freed in 72 hours.

"After three days, if I don't hear from you, I'm going there. I can promise you that," said Johnson, who was arrested shortly after their conversation ended.

Prosecutors have called forensic experts who testified that bloody shoe prints on Koziol-Ellis' floor and a stuffed animal match the tread from a pair of Nike Air Max shoes Johnson was wearing the night of the murder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Also Friday, Elgin Police Detective Carla Carter testified that she conducted a forensic analysis of Johnson's phone using software that allowed her to retrieve deleted text messages, as well as view Johnson's Internet search history. Prosecutors said this information showed he was lying to police when he told them he felt sick the night of March 1, 2013, after returning from work and went to bed.

Johnson was seen on surveillance video earlier that night with Dobrowolski buying beer at a nearby Walgreens and the two played cards at Johnson's residence, according to testimony. Johnson was searching the Internet off and on until 11:35 p.m., but Dobrowolski texted Johnson at 11:46 p.m. and 12:42 a.m., asking what was up and where Johnson was at, Carter testified.

Johnson did not respond.

Prosecutors say Johnson killed Koziol-Ellis between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m.; a neighbor who lived next to Koziol-Ellis' townhouse testified earlier in the week she heard pounding and a painful coming through the wall between midnight at 1 a.m.

Carter also testified to the following: At 3:07 a.m., Johnson downloaded a police scanner app to his smartphone. Johnson's girlfriend texted him at 3:37 a.m. asking if he was awake. Johnson replied at 4:12 a.m. that he was now "because of all these police lights," but he had been searching websites to see if news organizations were reporting the crime yet.

Over the next week, Carter testified, Johnson constantly searched news media websites to learn more of what had happened and even made inquiries into how long it takes police to process fingerprint and DNA evidence.

The trial resumes Monday.

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