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Victim in Olney shooting fears wife would attack him if released

Hagadone News Network | October 19, 2022 1:00 AM

The Olney man allegedly shot and wounded by his wife in September worried aloud in Flathead County District Court on Thursday that she would finish him off if released on bail.

“I’m afraid she’s going to come back and do it again,” Clayton Johnson said during an Oct. 13 bail modification hearing. “I’m scared of her getting released.”

His wife, 64-year-old Kay Lynn Johnson, moments before he spoke pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of assault with a weapon. She is being held in the county detention center with bail set at $100,000 following her Sept. 23 arrest.

Authorities headed to the couple’s Olney property after Kay Johnson told 911 dispatchers she shot her husband while he beat her, according to court documents. Arriving Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputies found Clayton Johnson in the driver’s seat of his pickup on neighboring property with a gunshot wound to his stomach.

The two offered conflicting accounts of the shooting, according to court documents. Kay Johnson’s story changed during an interview with authorities, telling detectives that she pulled out a rifle during an argument, hoping to scare him and change his mind. It went off when he grabbed it, she said. Afterward, he attacked her, she said, according to court documents.

Clayton Johnson, interviewed while awaiting surgery at an area medical facility, told detectives he was working in his shop Sept. 23 when he turned around and saw her pointing a gun at him. He recalled wrestling the gun out of her hands in the ensuing scuffle — despite being shot — and trying to drive to a neighbor’s for help, court documents said.

The two were getting a divorce, according to court documents.

Clayton Johnson offered more details about the shooting during the bond modification hearing following his wife’s arraignment.

“I knew if I didn’t get that gun out of her hands, I wouldn’t be here today,” he told Judge Robert Allison, remembering punching her several times to try and get control of the .22 level action rifle.

The blows had little effect, Clayton Johnson said.

“She’s strong,” he said several times.

Kay Johnson’s attorney, Timothy Wenz, had sought to see her bail reduced following her arraignment. Taking the stand before her husband, Kay Johnson testified that she could not afford any type of bond. If she were released, she had several potential jobs lined up and planned to live in a camper trailer that would be parked in the Columbia Falls area, where the couple have longstanding ties.

Under questioning from Wenz, she said she understood she was barred from owning firearms and said she would have little trouble refraining from communicating with her husband and any of the witnesses in the case.

“As soon as I get this done [I will] be on the other side of the mountains,” Kay Johnson told the court.

She also testified to having no prior criminal history, about which Deputy County Attorney Alison Howard expressed skepticism. Howard questioned her at length about a prior felony conviction of theft in Yellowstone County and a criminal endangerment charge originating in Cascade County.

Though Kay Johnson acknowledged living in several of the jurisdictions where Howard had found court proceedings attached to her name, she flatly denied any prior brushes with the law.

Following witness testimony, Allison opted to take the matter under advisement and charged Wentz and Howard with getting to the bottom of Kay Johnson’s alleged criminal history. It could be a case of mistaken identity, he allowed, before considering the alternative.

“If she just came into court and fabricated her prior record, things will go a certain way,” Allison said.

He also expressed concern about Kay Johnson’s plan to live in a camper in Columbia Falls. To get the camper, she would need to return to the couple’s property in Olney and move it out of their shop, which would require logistical work, Allison noted.

“I don’t know how all these pieces fit together,” he said. “They don’t fit together very well.”