A Kansas City man beat his friend, who was homeless, to death with a baseball bat on Christmas Eve after the friend threatened to rape his ex-wife, witnesses told police.
James E. Johnson, 38, was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action on Friday in the brutal beating of Darren Kirk.
Johnson’s ex-wife served as a key witness in the case after initially helping Johnson to move the victim’s body outside the home and then telling police she knew nothing about how the man was killed, according to charging documents filed by Kansas City police.
But later, the ex-wife and another witness came forward to repaint the gruesome scene for investigators:
On Christmas Eve, Kirk joined Johnson and his ex-wife in their home. All three were drinking.
Johnson and his ex-wife had befriended the homeless man, and Kirk was occasionally allowed to sleep in their home in the 3300 block of E. 20th St.
But on that night, Kirk threatened to lace Johnson’s ex-wife’s drink with a drug and then rape her, the ex-wife told police.
When she told Johnson of the threat, Johnson told his ex-wife to leave the room, picked up a baseball bat and beat his homeless friend for “over an hour,” according to witness accounts in the charging documents.
Following his arrest on Thursday, Johnson admitted to bludgeoning his friend to death and then hiding the baseball bat, police said.
After the scramble to conceal the alleged killing, Johnson and his ex-wife told a witness that they would rather commit “suicide by cop” than go to jail.
Prosecutors requested a $200,000 bond in Johnson’s case, according to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
He faces life in prison.