Convicted teen murderer wants new trial



Posted on December 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 6:45 PM

TWIN FALLS -- A Blaine County woman convicted in 2005 of killing her parents wants a new trial.

Sarah Johnson was 16 when her parents, Alan and Diane, were found dead in their Bellevue home.

Now 23 years old, she claims her former lawyer was ineffective and that she's still innocent.

The judge heared opening statments Tuesday morning from Sarah Johnson's attorney Christopher Simms, as well as from the state attorneys.

Johnson's attorney believes the defense attorney at the time of the trial, Robert Pangburn, did not prepare properly for the trial.

An example of that is that there was information that wasn't shared with the entire defense team, information that was kept in the trunk of the lead attorney, Pangburn, for weeks before it was shared.

The whole crux is that more could have been done to prove that Johnson did not kill her parents on the morning of Sept. 2, 2003.

Part of that is the accusation that the Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling had a initial belief that Sarah Johnson was responsible for her parents' murders and never deviated from that.

Because of that belief, Johnson's attorney believes key evidence and information was not taken or overlooked.

One specific example is an audio recording by officers first on the scene that the Sarah Johnson could not have done it because of the blood that was all over the crime scene, yet no where on Johnson.

At the time of the murder, then-16-year-old Sarah was dating 19-year-old Bruno Santos, a Mexican in the country illegally.

Sarah's parents did not approve of this relationship and went as far as telling Santos to no longer see their daughter.

Santos has since been convicted of drug crimes.

The hope now is to convince the judge that the 2005 murder trial was not done properly and hold a new trial.

Judge G. Richard Bevan is handling this case which is expected to last all week.

Johnson is in court for the trial.  She is currently being held in prison at the Pocatello Women's Correctional Center.

She is wearing an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs on her wrists and ankles.

She has not spoken in court and has showed very little emotion during the proceedings.