Appeals Court upholds conviction in Jackson Co. murder case

Published 3:54 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Mary Scarborough, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for her role in the killing of a retired Air Force instructor.

Scarborough, of Saucier, was convicted of capital murder in Jackson County. Scarborough was one of four people arrested in the beating death of Dorian Johnson on Dec. 30, 2002.

Johnson, of Escatawpa, was a retired Keesler Air Force Base instructor who was paralyzed on his right side because of a stroke. Johnson’s body was found on a logging trail off Mississippi Highway 57 in Vancleave.

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Scarborough claimed she was scared of Johnson because of alleged unwanted sexual advances. Scarborough claimed Johnson had been stalking her. Scarborough said she only wanted to scare Johnson into leaving her alone and enlisted the others to help her.

On appeal, Scarborough argued that prosecutors didn’t prove she was guilty.

Appeals Judge David Anthony Chandler, writing for the court, said while Scarborough may not have stabbed Johnson, she participated in the planning of the crime that led to Johnson’s murder.

“Scarborough claims she was nothing more than a mere observer, and as such, could not be found guilty of capital murder. We find this argument to be uncompelling,” Chandler wrote.

Chandler said Scarborough initiated the contact with Johnson and lured him to the park. He said she told others in the group that Johnson carried money and told others she might be a beneficiary on Johnson’s life insurance policy.

Chandler said when a knife was dropped during the beating at the park, Scarborough picked it up and put it in her car. She gave the knife over to one of those in her group and watched while Johnson was slashed.

“It appears from the record that Scarborough did nothing to either prevent or stop the men from savagely killing Johnson,” Chandler said.