The team at Reasonable Doubt tackle the controversial case of Tammy Lynn Baker, who was 8-months pregnant when she was murdered by a pipe bomb left on the sidewalk outside her apartment building. Her ex-boyfriend Mike Johson is currently serving time for her murder.
On December 3, 1997, Baker stepped out of her apartment in the small town of Louisa, Virginia, and picked up a trash can lid, which caused the detonation of a bomb that killed her and her fetus.
Debris from the explosion covered an area of over 600 feet, and the blast was heard 10-miles away.
Prosecutors argued that the killer was her ex-boyfriend, Coleman Leake Johnson Jr. (known as Mike by his acquaintances) and that his motive was to avoid paying child support.
Mike Johnson knew how to make pipe bombs
Acquaintances of Johnson told a jury that he knew how to make pipe bombs and that he had previously expressed anger over the issue of child support. An ex-girlfriend also recounted how Jonhson had told her he would be in Louisa on the night before Baker died.
Two inmates acted as witnesses testifying that Johnson had confessed to them that he committed the crime but that he’d only meant to kill the fetus.
Johnson’s defense lawyer argued that there was no forensic evidence to tie him to the crime. They also pointed to two unsolved bombings that occurred in Louisa just 5-months after Baker’s murder, arguing that her death may have been the work of a serial bomber. Johnson had a strong alibi for those bombs.
Johson’s mother claimed that her son was at home on the night before the bombing and would have found it impossible to sneak out past her, where she slept on the couch.
The defense also speculated that the bomb might have been intended for Baker’s roommate, and pointed to Johnson’s clean record.
A federal jury spent six hours deliberating before pronouncing him guilty. He narrowly avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison.
More from Reasonable Doubt
Follow the links to read about more murders where there is reasonable doubt.
Tracy Fortson was a sheriff’s deputy in rural Georgia when she was charged with murdering boyfriend Doug Benton. Despite a wealth of evidence against Fortson, she claims the local law enforcement authorities framed her for the crime.
Lorie Lance Lee died of smoke inhalation in 1992 in Nashville, Tennessee; her boyfriend Claude Garrett was accused of murdering her by arson. However, many now believe it was a tragic accident.
Reasonable Doubt airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.
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