BENTON - A Sikeston man will face first degree murder and other related charges for the May 2 stabbing death of his estranged girlfriend following his preliminary hearing Wednesday before Associate Circuit Court Judge David Mann.
Percy Edgar Johnson, 34, is charged with first degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, first degree assault and felonious restraint for the death of Mary Rudd, also of Sikeston. His arraignment is set for July 10 in Scott County Circuit Court.
"The cause of death in this case was a stab wound to the neck," said Scott County Prosecutor Paul Boyd upon submitting a copy of the death certificate and autopsy report into evidence.
The incident reportedly occurred around 1:15 p.m. at Freedom Taxi, 411 W. Malone Ave.
Donna Cureton, the victim's mother, testified she was dispatching for Freedom Taxi that day. Rudd was also working for the taxi company and had been there about an hour and a half when Johnson arrived, Cureton said. "He came to talk to Mary and his son."
Cureton said Johnson had formerly worked for the taxi company, but the night before had come to the taxi stand, quit, slapped Rudd, and run off across the street with their baby son. Johnson was arrested May 1 for assault, according to the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, and was released May 2, slated to return to court on June 6, but neither Johnson nor Rudd had a previous history of arrest for violence with the DPS.
Johnson and Rudd were talking, but the business phones were ringing, Cureton said, so she asked Johnson to step outside so she could hear the callers, "because he was doing all the loud talking."
Rudd and Johnson stepped outside the office and continued their conversation. "They kept getting a little bit louder and a little bit louder, and I told them to calm down," she recalled.
Cureton said when she went outside, she saw Johnson push Rudd, who was holding their baby, into a car and begin trying to start the car with this left hand while he pushed on Rudd with his right hand to keep her in the vehicle.
"I told him he could not take that car because it was not his," Cureton said.
Cureton said she then saw Johnson put the knife in his left hand and stab at her, but saw no blood with the first strike. "The second stab, blood just gushed out of her and he went for the third stab," Cureton said.
She testified the baby was on the car's seat during the attack and was covered in blood when a woman handed the baby to her.
Cureton said she then saw Rudd 20 or 30 feet from the car and went to check on her, "but she was not moving."
During the cross examination, Cureton asserted "it was not Mary's knife," and that while the conversation between the two seemed amicable enough before she asked them to leave the office, "I had a funny feeling something was going to go down."
Although she was suspicious, "I didn't know they were going to leave until I heard her scream and the car tried to start," Cureton said.
After further cross examination, Cureton exclaimed: "You know what? That man did it. He killed her in cold blood. He should be punished like my daughter was. ... My daughter never carried a knife in her purse. ... He's just trying to get out of something that he did."
The next witness to testify was Cureton's boyfriend, Virgil Tidwell, who said he received a phone call advising Johnson was at the taxi stand.
"I walked up from the house and everything went down," he recalled.
Tidwell said as he walked toward the taxi stand, he saw Johnson and Rudd but they moved from his view. As he got closer, Tidwell said he heard Cureton saying, "Percy don't do this - get out of the car."
Retrieving a club from the taxi stand, he approached the car, "and I saw Mr. Johnson getting out of the car with a knife." Upon further questioning later, he added, "it appeared to be covered with blood."
Tidwell said he saw Johnson approach Cureton with the knife and moved between them. "He swung at me with the knife and I hit him once with the club," he said.
Johnson then reportedly fled around the car and into the alley with Tidwell in pursuit.
Scott County Deputy Sheriff Dane Stausing next testified, relating how he was near the scene when he heard the radio call. Stausing said he spotted Johnson in the road, made eye contact and stopped the car to get out. "I noticed there was blood on his hand and up near his watch," he recalled.
He ordered Johnson to stop, but Johnson fled so he chased him on foot. "I eventually caught him, placed him on the ground and handcuffed him," he said.
Upon searching Johnson, Stausing reportedly found a Crown Royal bag. "Inside the purple bag was a knife," Stausing said. "It was a black-handled knife. I believe it was a kitchen knife." He estimated the blade was about three- or four-inches long.
On the walk to turn Johnson over to Sikeston DPS officers, there was a lot of commotion from bystanders and someone in the crowd yelled out, "'Did you stab that girl?'" Stausing recalled, "and he said, 'Yes.'"
Sikeston DPS Detective James McMillen testified that after speaking with witnesses, "Detective (Flint) Dees and I asked Mr. Johnson if he wanted to speak with us about the matter."
McMillen said the interview, which lasted between two and two-and-a-half hours, was recorded on video. Following the interview, they put together a question-answer statement with Johnson which Johnson signed. "We asked him everything that we thought was pertinent to the case."
Before the incident, Johnson and Rudd were reportedly having a disagreement about leaving the area. "She didn't want to move, he did," McMillen said.
McMillen said during the interview, Johnson confessed killing Rudd. "He told me he did do it."
Johnson "seemed genuinely upset," McMillen said. Asked by Dees if he deserved the death sentence, Johnson reportedly answered, "Yes sir - the only woman I love is dead."
Johnson remains in custody at the Scott County Jail without bond.