Elgin murder suspect testifies he cleaned crime scene, denies killing neighbor
Paul A. Johnson testified Monday that his half brother stabbed and killed Johnson's neighbor inside her Elgin townhouse in 2013 and he helped clean the crime scene with bleach and a rag to wipe away fingerprints.
Johnson, who faces life in prison in the murder of Lisa Koziol-Ellis, 33, also said he wanted to help if his half brother, Harry Dobrowolski, were arrested, but he had no good response when prosecutors asked why Johnson promised on a secret recording to "turn himself in."
"We're in this together," testified Johnson. "I'm not going to let him to take that fall for all if it when I partook in some of it. He's my brother. I love him."
Kane County prosecutors say Johnson on March 1, 2013, broke into his new neighbor's townhouse just three doors down from where he lived in the Garden Quarter complex on the city's near west side. But a burglary turned into homicide as Koziol-Ellis was stabbed 55 times. Her husband came home and found her body in a pool of blood about 2:30 a.m. March 2.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence tying Johnson to the scene through bloody prints from his Nike Air Max shoes along with his DNA, which was found on the inside of Koziol-Ellis's front door.
Prosecutors also demonstrated a pattern of Johnson lying, beginning with him telling authorities he felt sick and went to bed that night.
Johnson testified that he and Dobrowolski had some beers, played cards and were watching TV when Dobrowolski disappeared. Johnson said he later found him lying outside in the snow and thought his half brother had had another seizure.
Johnson testified that he carried Dobrowolski inside and saw that he was covered with blood.
Dobrowolski died of a drug overdose in May 2014, so Johnson was not allowed to detail their exact conversation because of hearsay restrictions.
Johnson said he grabbed two bottles of bleach and some latex gloves from his tattoo equipment and the two went to clean the scene, wiping blood spatters with rags and splashing bleach on the floor and walls.
Johnson said he put his gym shoes and other clothing items in a bag that he threw in a trash bin in a nearby neighborhood and told his half brother to take a shower.
Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman questioned why Johnson missed wiping the numerous blood stains and spatters that were found on the inside of Koziol-Ellis' front door.
"I'm not detailing a car," Johnson said. "I was doing everything quick. I didn't know what I was doing at the time."
Engerman also questioned why Johnson later did Internet searches on his phone inquiring how long it took authorities to process fingerprint and DNA evidence if Johnson was wearing gloves and Dobrowolski committed the murder.
Johnson also addressed the recording made after Dobrowolski wore a "wire" on March 15, 2013.
On the recording, the two try to get their story straight about when they bought beer on the night of the murder. Johnson tells his half brother he has nothing to worry about and Johnson would "turn himself in" if Dobrowolski were arrested on murder charges.
Johnson testified that he didn't know what he would say to police, and he denied killing Koziol-Ellis.
"I know I had something to do with this. I am, again, with my brother on this," Johnson said. "If it led to me telling them what had happened, I would have told them."
But Engerman questioned what Johnson had to tell authorities that was so important it would get Dobrowolski freed.
"Based upon your word, Harry was going to be released? Yes or no," Engerman asked.
"If that's the way you look at it, yes," Johnson answered.
Closing arguments are expected Tuesday morning.
Johnson has been held at the Kane County jail on $5 million bail since his arrest.