Agrees to lesser charges with
Attorneys came to the Sevier County Circuit Court Wednesday, February 23, to presents motions in the double murder case of Garry William Johnson of Pigeon Forge. Johnson, along with his wife Janet Dych, was accused in the double murder of their neighbors, Leeann Lytle and Melissa Collier on September 3, 2000. Johnson was also charged with aggravated arson. Both victims were 21-years-old.
During the proceedings Johnson’s attorneys Bryan Delius and Don Bosch told Circuit Court Judge Rex Ogle that Johnson planned to plead guilty to two counts of facilitation to commit 1st degree murder and 1 count of aggravated arson.
In a plea deal made between the State of Tennessee and Johnson he must serve 100% of the sentence given to him for the charge of aggravated arson, less 15% for credits and 30% of his sentence (less credits) must be served on the charges of facilitation to commit 1st degree murder before he would be illegible for parole. Under the agreement, Johnson will serve approximately 32 years before he could come before the parole board. He could serve as much as 75 years in prison.
Judge Ogle spent a great deal of time explaining to Johnson the charges against him, what it would mean to enter the plea deal and what his rights were under the agreement. Johnson stated that while he just entered into the agreement that morning that he understood what his rights were under the agreement.
Judge Ogle then accepted the plea agreement and found Johnson guilty of the charges of two counts of facilitation to commit 1st degree murder and 1 count of aggravated arson.
Authorities in the case believed Johnson shot and stabbed the women and then set the mobile home on fire. According to reports, they believed Dych returned to the scene where she found Collier trying to crawl away from the home and stabbed her.
Dych was convicted by a Sevier County jury in 2004 of 1st degree murder in the death of Collier and facilitation of first-degree murder in the death of Lytle.
District Attorney Al Schmutzer, Jr.. presented facts to the court of evidence found during the investigation. According to Schmutzer, a search of the home of Johnson and Dych found clothes in a trash can covered with the blood of Collier. Also in the trash can were two firearms and two knives, also covered with Colliers blood.
The crime was one of the most gruesome ever to occur in Sevier County.
According to testimony by Schmutzer, Lytle’s body was found badly burned in the home. She had been stabbed and shot. When she was removed from the premises, three bullets were found under her body that matched one of the guns found in the garbage can in Johnson and Dych’s home. Collier was believed hit in the head with one of the guns, stabbed approximately 60 times, her throat was slit and she had been shot.
Suzanna Lytle, Leeann’s mother, flew in from California to be at today’s hearing. Lytle told the Herald her thoughts about the agreement, “I think the plea agreement is best. It’s been a long time and we need to put it to rest.”
Schmutzer stated that the agreement was made only after consultation with families of both of the victims and that they [the families] agreed to the plea agreement. “The plea reflects that we had less proof on him [Johnson] than we did on his wife Janet Dyke,” stated Schmutzer. “Unfortunately, her confession which made him the principal actor could not be used in his trial. This plea agreement represents a compromise and doesn’t reflect what we believed happened that night. However, what we believe and what we can prove are two different things.”
A hearing for pre-sentence investigation is set for April 11.