ANDERSON — The daughter-in-law of a woman gunned down inside a Nichol Avenue home Wednesday described her as a “wonderful person” who died over a petty argument.

Sandra Johnson is the daughter-in-law of Fredricka J. Smith, 67. Smith’s ex-husband, 76-year-old Donald P. Johnson, allegedly shot her to death inside Sandra Johnson’s home in the 800 block of Nichol shortly before 2:30 p.m.

According to a probable cause affidavit:

Johnson shot Smith with .38-caliber handgun once in the chest after they argued in the home. Smith was pronounced dead about a half-hour later at Saint John’s Medical Center.

“It was all over papers she wanted to take to recycle,” Sandra said. “It wasn’t even anything important. I don’t want to go into too much details about the papers.”

Sandra said Smith would come over and watch her two young children, and they were in the home at the time of the homicide. She said they’re doing “as well as anyone can expect.”

Sandra said her mother-in-law was well-liked and enjoyed belly-dancing, even taught a class at Ivy Tech Community College last year. Smith had been a retired truck driver, Sandra said.

“To know her was to love her,” Sandra said. “She was a wonderful person.”

Donald Johnson called 911 after the shooting, telling dispatchers what he had done. He was taken into custody without incident, and confessed to shooting Smith.

Prosecutor’s charged Johnson with murder, punishable by 45 to 65 years in prison, on Thursday. He made an initial court appearance the same day, and Anderson attorney Robert Cowles was appointed as his public defender. Cowles couldn’t be reached for comment late Friday.

Sandra said she and her husband, Rolf, hadn’t talked to Donald Johnson since the shooting.

“I have not, nor do I plan to,” Sandra said. “As many things as she did for him, I never would have thought he’d do that.

“I don’t believe any of us want to talk to him,” she continued. “I don’t want to divulge to much about the family, but she was a wonderful person. She would have helped a stranger as much as a friend.”


What’s next?

Prosecutors charged Donald P. Johnson, 76, with murder in connection with his ex-wife’s shooting death. His trial is tentatively set for Sept. 23 in Madison Circuit Court. Anderson attorney Robert Cowles has been appointed Johnson’s public defender. If convicted, Johnson faces 45 to 65 years in prison.

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