Woman's trial under way in Officer Francis killing

October 21, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The attorney for Robin Johnson agreed she shot the veteran officer, but told the court is was accidental.

Deborah Francis says she last saw her husband about 20 minutes before he started his shift with the Chicago Police Department. She says hours later, early in the morning of July 2, 2008, she was informed that her husband was dead. She was the first witness in the trial that began Monday for Robin Johnson, the woman accused of killing Officer Francis.

The officer, who was a 27-year veteran of the department, was alone in a squad car when he responded to a call about a disturbance on a CTA bus at Belmont and Western. Police say when Officer Francis arrived, he struggled with Johnson until she grabbed his revolver and shot him three times, once in the head. Police say Johnson also shot at four officers who responded for backup. Johnson's family says she suffers from epilepsy and mental illness.

During opening statements, her attorney said at the time of the shooting, Johnson was in distress, confused and in need of help and had no intention of killing anyone and that she reacted to being slammed into a squad car by Officer Francis.

Prosecutors say Johnson knew exactly what she was doing and that Officer Francis who happened to be nearby at the time of the incident, found himself staring down the barrel of his own revolver.

Also taking the stand was the CTA bus driver from that night. Tracy Jackson says she flagged down Officer Francis after Johnson had been harassing a passenger on the bus. Jackson was in tears when she described the moment she heard gunshots. She said she screamed and ran to the back of the bus.

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks. If convicted, Johnson could face natural life in prison.

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