April 20, 2014

Elyria
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Alleged carjacker pleads insanity

ELYRIA — A Cleveland man accused of an Aug. 20 carjacking involving a woman at a child-care center in Avon pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday on the eve of his scheduled trial.

Robert J. Johnson, 24, will receive a psychiatric evaluation by the Nord Community Mental Health Center’s forensic unit, according to an order signed by Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery.

The examination will focus on his competency to stand trial and his mental condition, and the judge ordered that reports be filed with the court within 30 days.

Johnson has spent most of his adult life in prison.

Several weeks before the alleged carjacking, Johnson was released from Lorain Correctional Institution, where he had served six years for aggravated robbery and an additional eight months for a case in which he harassed another inmate, according to records from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Johnson was serving five years of post-release control when he got in trouble again, according to state records.

Johnson and his 14-year-old brother are accused of taking a Ford Taurus from a 38-year-old Avon woman as she arrived to open Laura’s Learning Treehouse, 37190 Colorado Ave. Police gave the following account:
Johnson was driven into the center’s parking lot in a silver Toyota by his brother. The Toyota had been stolen in Cleveland.

Johnson reportedly began asking the Avon woman questions about how to enroll his child, which aroused the suspicions of the woman, who was carrying a crate of materials into the center at 6:30 a.m.

Before she could move away or defend herself, Johnson allegedly knocked her down, grabbed her car keys and drove off. She was treated for injuries at the EMH Avon Health Campus, police said.

Avon police who responded to the day-care worker’s 911 call chased the Taurus and Toyota eastbound on Detroit Road into Westlake, where the Taurus hit a truck at Detroit and Basset roads.

Johnson took off running, and he crashed through a window of an apartment at the Bassett Garden Apartments, where he fought briefly with Westlake police, who stunned him with a Taser after he refused to surrender, Westlake Police Capt. Guy Turner said previously.

Neither Johnson nor the teen had any weapons when arrested, police said.

Johnson was hospitalized for several days after the incident for injuries he received in the crash.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.