Aiken County man pleads guilty to 2020 murder, arson and grand larceny

Dominique Johnson
Dominique Johnson(WRDW)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 4:48 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -An Aiken County man pleaded guilty today to gunning down a 54-year-old man and setting his house on fire late last year.

Dominique Johnson, 30, of Ridge Spring came before the Second Judicial Circuit in Aiken this afternoon and pleaded guilty to murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, grand larceny, possession of a stolen pistol, first-degree burglary and second-degree arson.

Judge Courtney Clyburn-Pope sentenced Dominique to 40 years in prison.

According to facts presented by state prosecutors, Dominique admitted to authorities on Dec. 11, 2020 that he murdered James C. Johnson and discarded his body in a field. The two are not related, prosecutors said.

On the morning of Dec. 6, 2020, authorities were called to the scene of a fire on Columbia Highway North on Sunday morning. Fire officials called investigators after determining the fire was “suspicious in nature.”

No victims were found near or inside the home.

Just over six hours later, deputies were called after James’ body was found in a field near Cummings Road.

Authorities discovered James had been shot in the back of the head. Investigators determined the James lived in the house that was lit on fire and further determined that James’ car was missing.

Dominique was later stopped at a traffic stop in North Augusta. He was taken into custody, along with co-defendant Robert Day, for driving James’ car.

While in custody, Dominique confessed to murdering James.

According to Dominique’s confession, he asked James to drive him to a house to buy drugs.

When the two arrived, Dominique became paranoid that James would leave him at the house, so he shot him multiple times.

Dominique then sat on top of James in the driver’s seat and drove to a wooded field to dump his body.

He then went to James’ house and stole a gaming system before lighting the house on fire.

State prosecutors sought a 40 year prison sentence while Dominique’s attorney asked Judge Clyburn-Pope to consider a slightly more lenient sentencing of 30 years.

Clyburn-Pope ultimately sided with the prosecution on sentencing.

Dominique has been held in the Aiken County Detention Center for 282 days since his arrest last year.

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