HANCOCK COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – Heather and Michael Johnston entered into a not guilty plea following the death of their three-year-old son in March of 2021.
Heather is facing a murder charge, two counts of gross neglect of a child creating substantial risk of injury or death and one count of child neglect resulting in death.
Her husband, Michael, is not facing murder charges. He is charged with two counts of gross neglect of a child creating substantial risk of injury or death and one count of child neglect resulting in death.
On Thursday, the defense argued to get bond for Heather, which Judge Cuomo did set for $100,000.
Her attorney Sean Logue said he doesn’t even believe this is a murder charge.
I think murder requires a specific intent to commit the murder. It’s just a terrible terrible tragedy. There are no winners here. It’s a horrible situation and I believe the judge agreed with me that this is a legitimate issue and as such he ordered she stay out on bond.Sean Logue, Heather’s Defense Attorney
As for Michael, the prosecution made a request that he have zero contact to the two older children. Judge Cuomo granted that request.
Currently neither parent is allowed contact to the two children.
Michael is also out on a $100,000 bond.
Both used a bondsman to post 10%.
Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Dragisich said the reason they aren’t seeking a murder charge for Michael is because is because he allegedly was not present for most of the day the incident happened.
He was actually fishing with two of his children at the time. So, he was not at the residence when the fire began and when that started. Mrs. Johnston was present but he was not. some of the evidence that has been uncovered is that there was no effort to unlock the door when the fire began.Steven Dragisich, Hancock County Prosecutor
Dragisich also said it is a terrible situation and they are seeking justice for this little boy.
The trial is set for April 4.
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