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Driver pleads guilty after uninvolved motorist's death in crash during police chase

Driver pleads guilty after uninvolved motorist's death in crash during police chase

  • Updated

An Owasso man originally charged in state court has pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge after the case was moved to federal court.

Tulsa County prosecutors had charged an Owasso man on allegations that a death resulted from a collision he caused while leading deputies on a chase in east Tulsa.

Michael Leon Johnson, 34, had been charged in October 2019 with first-degree felony murder, kidnapping, leaving the scene of a fatal collision, possessing a stolen vehicle, endangering others while eluding a police officer, possessing stolen property and resisting an officer, according to court records.

Johnson was accused of driving a stolen pickup while being pursued by deputies when the truck struck a Nissan Rogue, killing that car’s 48-year-old driver, William Joseph Houseman.

“William Houseman lost his life because of Michael Johnson’s selfish and reckless choices. His death is a tragedy,” U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a news release. “Johnson was in possession of a stolen vehicle and chose to run from police, rather than face the consequences for his criminal choices. On Jan. 12, 2021, a federal judge will hand down a sentence suitable for this senseless act.”

Federal prosecutors have taken over cases including Johnson’s after a U.S. Supreme Court decision restored jurisdiction over major criminal cases in Indian Country to the federal government or tribal courts.

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