The Devil on Trial: Who is Arne Johnson and how did he inspire The Conjuring 3?

Arne Johnson in The Devil on Trial
Arne Johnson in The Devil on Trial. Pic credit: Netflix

The Devil on Trial has possessed Netflix viewers everywhere with its honest retelling of Arne Johnson’s murder trial.

The story might initially seem familiar as it tackles similar notes as The Conjuring 3.

And this is confirmed once Ed and Lorraine Warren (true-life personas from The Conjuring movies) enter the Netflix documentary.

Since the film premiered on the platform, viewers have been curious about the second main subject of the film surrounding, Arne Johnson.

More specifically, how his story inspired The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It.

Here is what viewers should know about Arne Johnson and how his unfortunate story shaped the third Conjuring movie and, in some ways, overdramatized the real-life story.

Who is Arne Cheyenne Johnson?

The Netflix documentary The Devil on Trial mostly centers on the Glatzel family and their struggles with battling a possible demonic presence.

When they first encounter the entity, David Glatzel is the one who becomes possessed at 11 years of age.

After a disturbing exorcism involved with David, he becomes normal once again.

But who is Arne Johnson in the mix of this? Johnson was a boyfriend to David’s sister Debbie, and in the heat of the exorcism, the Netflix documentary says Johnson challenged the entity mid-exorcism. A notion the real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren immediately pushed back on.

In doing so, the documentary explains that sometime later, when they all felt safe to return to normalcy, Johnson (who had no history of violence) blacked out and viciously murdered his landlord, Alan Bono, leading to the first trial in history where demonic possession was used as a defense.

The Trial of Arne Johnson

If one believes Arne Johnson was possessed, then the outcome of Johnson’s trial is enormously tragic.

The defense attempted to use demonic possession as a defense, but the judge denied it because it was “unprovable.”

This left Johnson in an awkward position, and self-defense was the only course of action his legal team proposed — a hard sell considering the number of stab wounds inflicted on Bono.

The 1981 trial ended with Johnson being found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum time in prison. However, because he served gracefully, Johnson was out of prison in five years on good behavior.

How did the trial inspire The Conjuring 3?

In some ways, the trial directly influenced the film; in other ways, the movie takes massive liberties with the actual story.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (directed by Michael Chavez) follows the same true story.

Ed and Lorraine assist in the exorcist of David Glatzel, and Arne Johnson murders his landlord, spawning a trial.

However, the James Wan produced film veers into crazy town when the film blames the entire situation on a cult. And the Warrens hunt down the occultists who have been placing curses on unlikely victims.

But that is the industry norm in Hollywood. Take a story that is already stranger than fiction and romanticize it.

The Devil on Trial is now on Netflix.

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