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Roy man found guilty of shooting neighbor, dumping body in Ogden

By Mark Shenefelt - | Jul 28, 2022

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner

The 2nd District Court building in Ogden is pictured Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

OGDEN — A jury on Thursday found a 49-year-old Roy man guilty of shooting a neighbor to death and dumping his body in Ogden after the two quarreled over gambling proceeds.

After about four hours of deliberations, the 2nd District Court panel convicted Daniel Lee Johnson of first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony obstructing justice, and third-degree felony counts of abuse or desecration of a body and use of a firearm by a restricted person.

Charging documents said that on April 10, 2021, Johnson shot Steven Robert Bailey, 38, in the face with a .45 caliber pistol, packed his body into Bailey’s car and drove to inner-city Ogden, where he left the car in a church parking lot. Bailey’s decomposing body was found three days later, stuffed face down on the floor of the car’s back seat, and Johnson was soon arrested.

The physical evidence showed that Johnson “intentionally shot Steven in the face,” prosecutor Dean Saunders of the Weber County Attorney’s Office said in closing arguments. He said Johnson then cleaned up the crime scene, “pretzeled” Bailey’s body into the car and abandoned the vehicle in an out-of-the-way place.

In his closing arguments, defense attorney Randall Marshall told jurors that the shooting was accidental. Johnson had testified that Bailey slammed Johnson’s screen door shut on his arm holding the gun, and it went off.

Marshall said Johnson was worried about his two children, who were at home with him when Bailey came to their mobile home and was “pounding on the walls, yelling, screaming obscenities.”

He said Johnson took steps to avoid arrest after the shooting because he was afraid that child welfare authorities would take custody of the children.

“He is not a murderer,” Marshall said. He said the gun “was just there to scare” Bailey “and everything went sideways.”

But Saunders cataloged Johnson’s “progression of lies,” beginning early in the case when he told police he had a jovial meeting with Bailey earlier in the day and knew nothing about his death. After being confronted with evidence, Johnson admitted he was there, but said he did not know the gun was loaded and that he did not pull the trigger, rather blaming that on Bailey slamming the door on him.

Saunders pointed out that neither of Bailey’s children testified about a door being slammed. Johnson’s son testified that his father kept the .45 loaded, with a round in the chamber. His daughter said she saw, while looking through a window, sparks from a gunshot and Bailey falling back.

Johnson also did nothing to help Bailey, such as call 911, Saunders said. Instead, he “did everything he could to prevent the investigation of this case,” Saunders said.

Johnson said he smoked marijuana earlier in the day, but said nothing about methamphetamine, which was detected in his blood later, Saunders said. He told police he had a rifle and a pistol but did not mention a third firearm, a .45 pistol he had in a drawer.

Johnson also had a shaky story about where he left Bailey, according to Saunders. Johnson testified that Bailey was alive, sitting up, and he parked at McKay-Dee Hospital, then panicked and ran away. Under questioning, he said someone else, unknown to him, must have taken the car to where it was found days later.

“You can disregard anything the defendant said, based on his lies,” Saunders told jurors.

Judge Jennifer Valencia set sentencing for Sept. 12.

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