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Searles man who held ‘death party’ for wife pleads guilty to neglect

(New Ulm, MN) – A Searles man whose wife died after the couple held a death party complete with meth, sex, and rock music has pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.

Charges of third-degree murder and receiving stolen property were dismissed against Duane Johnson, 59, as part of a plea agreement.  Johnson would serve three years in prison under the plea agreement.  He’ll be sentenced on August 12th.

Duane Johnson told police he’d removed his wife Debra from her nursing home so he could give her the death party he’d promised.  The five-day shindig apparently included smoking meth, Quiet Riot music, and having sex, according to court documents.  Johnson met first responders at the door completely nude, and police later found him in the bathtub.  His wife’s body was found wrapped in a gray sheet at the top of the stairway.

The investigation of Debra Johnson’s death revealed that Johnson had 47 guns, many of them stolen.  Ammunition and prescription medication was also discovered, according to the criminal complaint.

A press release from Brown County Attorney Charles Hanson says “voluminous evidence and its strength, anticipated defenses to various charges, and possible outcomes at trial” were primary factors in the plea offer.

“We feel this outcome serves the interest of justice,” said Hanson in the release.

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