Mauricio Johnson, who was 18 when the crime was committed, will receive a sentence of 150 years to life in prison under the offer from his attorney, with a parole hearing in 25 years, according to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.
The deaths of Nikki Dion Metcalf and Margarett Lee Moon, both 40, and Moon's 16-year-old daughter, Shelly Autumn Mae Moon, had profound impacts on the Bear River and Loleta communities. Shelly and Margarett Lee Moon both worked at Loleta Elementary School as aides, tutoring students and working in the afterschool program.
Margarett Lee Moon and Metcalf had become engaged to be married on Christmas Eve. Two other children who were in the home at the time of the killings were not physically injured.
“To clarify two points: Attorneys and victim advocates from the District Attorney’s Office spoke with many members of the victims’ families, friends, and additional members of the community.,” the DA’s office news release states. “Understandably, given the terrible harm done by the defendant, the people most affected by the murders expressed differing views on whether to accept the plea or proceed to trial.”
Johnson, who also admitted to three special allegations of using a firearm in the killings, was arrested in Utah a day after the Feb. 10 shootings while traveling with his mother, Melissa Sanchez Johnson, and her friend in a white Toyota Highlander, reportedly heading to a friend or family member’s residence in Indiana.
The DA’s office notes that under California law, young offenders “all currently receive a parole hearing in their 25th year of incarceration, unless they are serving life without the possibility of parole.”
Read the full release below:
Today, October 26, 2021, 19-year-old Mauricio Johnson pled guilty before Judge Timothy Canning, to three counts of first-degree murder and admitted three special allegations for use of a firearm causing death for the killings of Nikki Metcalf, Margarett Moon, and confidential minor victim Jane Doe, in February of this year, on the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria Reservation. The prosecution accepted the offer made by Andrea Sullivan, Johnson’s attorney, of 150 years to life in prison. The sentence means the defendant will have a parole hearing in 25 years.
The facts of this case support the defendant’s plea. On the night of February 9th, the defendant entered the home of the Nikki Metcalf, Margarett Moon, and Jane Doe with the permission of several of the minors in the home. Sometime during the night, after most of the occupants were asleep, Nikki discovered the defendant and Jane Doe together in Jane Doe’s bedroom and began to struggle with the defendant. When confronted by Nikki, the defendant pulled a firearm out of his backpack and shot Nikki. The defendant then shot Margarett and Jane Doe. Nikki and Jane Doe died at the scene, and Margarett died shortly after.
If the case had proceeded to trial and a jury found the defendant guilty of the charges above and the additional special allegation of multiple murders, a judge might have sentenced the defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In agreeing to the plea, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office considered several factors, including: 1) the plea satisfies the public safety mission of the Office, 2) a trial would require testimony from young people who have suffered a tragedy, 3) the wishes of family members of the victims, 4) the retention of hope for the positive transformation of a person 18 years of age at the time of their crime, and 5) likely changes to California law.To clarify two points: Attorneys and victim advocates from the District Attorney’s Office spoke with many members of the victims’ families, friends, and additional members of the community. Understandably, given the terrible harm done by the defendant, the people most affected by the murders expressed differing views on whether to accept the plea or proceed to trial.
On the point about California law, youthful offenders all currently receive a parole hearing in their 25th year of incarceration, unless they are serving life without the possibility of parole. California legislators are seeking to modify the parole eligibility of youthful offenders, so that all would be entitled to a parole hearing regardless of their original sentence. The defendant’s agreed upon sentence would be the maximum sentence he could receive if the law under consideration takes effect.
Finally, citizens should recognize the difficulty of receiving parole for people guilty of first-degree murder. The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office attends all parole hearings for murders, to ensure that decision-makers remain fully aware of the substance and significance of the crimes committed.