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McMartin Preschool Trials: 1987-90

Paranoid Schizophrenic

In December 1986, Judy Johnson died of alcohol poisoning. Only then was it revealed that she had been a paranoid schizophrenic. In January 1997, defense attorneys learned that for 10 months prosecutor Lael Rubin and her assistants had not divulged that Johnson had accused the defendants of being witches, and had insisted to investigators that her son had been forced to drink blood from the chopped-open head of a baby and had been molested by a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education. Johnson's bizarre complaints continued from her first report of sexual abuse against her son in May 1983 to March 6, 1985, when it took the help of police to have her committed to a hospital for psychiatric examination. In the end, neither jury in either trial was told of Johnson's emotional problems.

The first trial began on July 13, 1987. Prosecution witnesses included children who testified to playing "naked movie star" games and seeing cats mutilated, as well as a professional "jailhouse snitch" and career criminal put in Ray Buckey's cell to obtain "corroborative" testimony. To show that Buckey was a pedophile, the prosecution provided evidence that he read Playboy and hadn't had any underwear on when he was arrested.

In the circus atmosphere of the courtroom, some child prosecution witnesses refused to testify, causing the judge to dismiss some of the charges. In fact, while the prosecution had assembled charges involving 41 children, it eventually concentrated on only 13—and by February 1989 only 5 had testified. One, a boy now aged 11, said he once saw Ray Buckey kill a horse; however, as defense attorney Dean Gits pressed for details, repeatedly replied, "I don't know."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988McMartin Preschool Trials: 1987-90 - Mother Calls In The Police, Parents Demand Action, Rewarded For "right" Answers, Paranoid Schizophrenic