The U.S. Marshals Service says “good ol’ fashioned” police work led to the capture of the convicted killer accidentally released by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections ahead of serving a 40-year sentence for manslaughter.
“Quite frankly, this was just some really good police work,” Kevin Harrison, U.S. marshal for the Middle District of Louisiana, said Friday.
U.S. marshals arrested Benjuiel Johnson, 32, shortly after midnight Friday at a Motel 6 in Norcross, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.
DOC spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Johnson is being held at a prison in Gwinnett County, Georgia, as authorities work out the details of his transport back to Louisiana.
“We will probably have finalized those plans early next week,” she said.
Laborde also said local authorities will determine if Johnson’s behavior and actions during his release warrant any additional criminal charges.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, DOC, Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Atlanta were credited in aiding in the U.S. Marshals Service’s capture of Johnson.
“They turned over an arrest warrant to us two days ago,” Harrison said. “Once we determined what things had been done and what hadn’t been done, we were able to track him down through interviews with associates and family members.”
Authorities believe Johnson was trying to meet up with someone he knew in Georgia.
Harrison said Johnson did not put up any resistance when marshals popped up on him at the Motel 6, and he was taken into police custody without incident.
“This was a little frustrating because we were dealing with family members who thought this was a miracle from God and for whatever reason didn’t think he should have been apprehended,” Harrison said about their involvement. “These are the kind of things we were up against.”
Johnson was mistakenly released from the state’s custody on Sept. 22 after serving time for possession of weapons and stolen gun charges that were unrelated to his murder conviction.
He was turned over to authorities in East Feliciana Parish, where he faced an additional charge of assaulting a corrections officer last year.
Johnson bonded out of jail Sept. 26 on the assault charge and was spotted in Iberville Parish several days later.
It was residents who saw Johnson and called the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, which alerted DOC the man had been released from prison before serving out his 40-year sentence for fatally shooting Cordies Gales, 31, in 2010 after the two men were involved in a fight over a gambling game in Plaquemine.
DOC released Johnson when he finished his time on other charges, not realizing he had a long sentence still ahead of him after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for shooting Gales.
Laborde had said DOC didn’t get paperwork from local authorities after Johnson’s guilty plea, a point that Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi disputed.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.