Man in prison for murder admits to killing Minnesota guard
STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - A man previously jailed for murder in Minnesota has been sentenced to life in prison after admitting he killed a security guard in 2018.
Edward Muhammad Johnson, 44, pleaded guilty Friday to first degree murder for killing Joseph Gomm. A judge immediately sentenced him under a state law that provides life imprisonment for the murder of a first-degree law enforcement officer.
Johnson joined his request via videoconference from the maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights. He said he checked out a hammer from the metal shop at Stillwater Prison where he was incarcerated on July 18, 2018 and punched Gomm in the head "twice, I think".
Johnson said he wanted to kill Gomm who was overseeing inmates in the metal shop. Gomm, 45, had been a correction officer for 16 years.
Gomm's death resulted in a month-long lockdown at Stillwater Prison and the resignation of three officers. At least 10 others have taken leaves. His death also prompted guards to request more security cameras and staff in professional workshops.
Paul Schnell, commissioner of the Minnesota Justice Department, called the plea and condemnation "bittersweet".
"While it does bring a fair end to the legal process, it does not alleviate the very real pain and loss that Joe's immediate family, friends and co-workers experience," Schnell said in a statement. "Officer Gomm was an honorable officer, not because of his death, but because of the way he lived - his memory and sacrifice should be honored forever."
Johnson served a 29-year sentence for stabbing his then-roommate in 2002, and his life sentence will follow, said Washington district judge Ellen Maas.
Gomm's sister Audrey Cone and her husband Chris Cone told the Star Tribune they were relieved that Johnson pleaded guilty.
"At least we can close this part of the book and try to move forward," said Audrey Cone. "We'll never get Joe back. That really is the only thing that would ever fix this."
The Cones said they plan to sue the corrections department.
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