Evidence fight halts trial in beauty salon slayings case

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The trial of a St. Louis man charged in the 2005 stabbing deaths of three people at a southwestern Illinois beauty salon was unexpectedly stopped in a dispute over possible new evidence in the case.

Jury selection was to continue Tuesday for Samuel L. Johnson’s trial on murder charges when prosecutors said they wanted an appeals court review of the judge’s decision to block evidence they want to present. Johnson is charged with killing 79-year-old Doris Fischer, 82-year-old Dorothy Bone and 62-year-old hairdresser Michael Cooney in Belleville.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the evidence involves writing found Monday on a courthouse holding cell’s wall but that details weren’t immediately made public.

The 52-year-old Johnson was arrested days following the killings, but wasn’t charged until after police reopened the investigation in 2014.