Burleson resident Tab Denny Johnson was arraigned on two counts of solicitation of capital murder Friday morning in the 249th District Court. Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna said no trial date has been set for Johnson.
Senior District Judge C.C. “Kit” Cooke handled Friday’s arraignments, filling in for 249th District Judge Wayne Bridewell.
Johnson, 52, allegedly attempted to hire someone to kill his estranged wife and her male friend while being held at the Johnson County Law Enforcement Center on other charges.
Johnson was reportedly quite surprised to learn that the “hitman” he spoke with several times on the phone was actually Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford.
Burleson police arrested Johnson on Nov. 23 after Fort Worth police responded to the address of Johnson’s estranged wife to find the passenger area of her vehicle on fire. The estranged wife identified Johnson as a suspect and her son told police he saw Johnson’s pickup on the street shortly before the fire, according to a Burleson Police Department search warrant affidavit.
Later that same day, Johnson’s estranged wife called Burleson police from an apartment complex on Renfro Street to report a violation of an earlier protective order, which prohibited Johnson from coming within 200 yards of her.
The wife, who had an appointment that day to sign a lease at the apartment, told police she saw Johnson walking around the complex’s parking lot, that he walked about 10 feet from her vehicle, made eye contact and stared at her before getting into his truck and driving away.
While the wife described the incident to a BPD sergeant, Johnson drove by the apartment complex again, according to the affidavit, well within bounds of the 200 yard limitation. The sergeant conducted a traffic stop and detained Johnson who, according to the affidavit, claimed he had an appointment to discuss renting an apartment at the complex.
Johnson said he left the complex to drive around intending to come back as the office was closed when he arrived. Johnson could not recall the name of the apartment employee he spoke with and told the sergeant he did not know his wife was at the same complex and denied having seen her.
Apartment officials told police they did not know Johnson and that he had no appointment to see an apartment.
The Burleson sergeant subsequently learned that Fort Worth police had arrested Johnson for violating the same protective order on Nov. 13 and that he was released on bond on Nov. 16.
Burleson police searched Johnson’s vehicle after arresting him and found a pellet gun package, an unopened gallon can of Coleman lamp fuel and a digital camera.
Johnson told Burleson police he believes the protective order resulted from him assaulting his estranged wife with a piece of firewood in her Fort Worth residence.
A FWPD sexual assault report from Oct. 29 lists Johnson as the suspect and his estranged wife as the victim in an assault and rape.
In January, while Johnson was detained in the JCLEC, JCSO Lt. Brian Peterson learned that Johnson allegedly attempted to hire fellow inmates to kill his wife and her male friend. Using that information, officials from JCSO, the Texas Rangers and the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office arranged telephone contact between Johnson and the “hit man” who later turned out to be Alford.
During several conversations over four days, Johnson allegedly discussed details and arrangements of the hits and reached an agreement on payment, promising to put personal property up as collateral until he could bond out of jail and pay the hit man.
Bailiffs wheeled Johnson into the courtroom Friday morning. Although not wheelchair bound when the alleged crimes occurred, he has since apparently come down with “all sorts of medical issues,” officials said.