Perjury convict keeps mum on niece's death BALTIMORE COUNTY

February 19, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

Alice A. Johnson may hold the key to her prison cell -- if she will tell authorities what she knows about the May 23 disappearance and subsequent death of her pregnant teen-aged niece.

Otherwise, Johnson, 28, of the 8000 block of Woodgate Court, must serve a maximum 10-year sentence for perjury, handed down yesterday by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger.

Jailed since her November conviction for lying to a county grand jury last summer, she has kept her silence. And although she cried yesterday and said she loved her niece, she still would not talk about the case.

Judge Bollinger told her the sentence could be modified, if she cooperated. Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst said police and prosecutors "are still interested in finding out what happened to this poor dead girl."

They believe Johnson knows who killed her niece, although they haven't ruled her out as the killer.

Chanell Clanton, 16, of the 7200 block of Oakhaven Circle, was five months' pregnant when she boarded a bus near City College High School in Baltimore around 3 p.m. on May 23. She was going to baby-sit at her aunt's home near Milford Mill High School.

Johnson later reported the girl missing, but lied when she told police she had received telephone calls from her niece until 11 p.m. that night. The lie threw off the police investigation by eight hours. She also lied when she was found with a ring her niece wore that day, Ms. Brobst said.

On June 24, a man found the girl's decomposed body in woods behind his house in the 3700 block of Old Milford Mill Road, near the aunt's home. Her hands had been tied with a cloth. However, the cause of death couldn't be determined and thus the case couldn't be ruled a homicide.

On July 27, Johnson testified before a county grand jury. The next month, without telling defense attorney Marc S. Dorman, she admitted lying to police.

"She wanted to help her niece. She went to the police on her own volition to tell them everything she knew about the case," Mr. Dorman argued, in an unsuccessful attempt to keep his client's admission from convicting her.

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