Sean Johnson SIBA shooting case: Why is it so hard to enforce probation?

10:56 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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Sean Johnson

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - The student accused of shooting his financial aid advisor at a downtown business school is now facing felony charges. It's not his first violent offense, though. A former judge is weighing in on why it's so difficult to enforce probation.

Both the accused shooter, 34-year-old Sean Johnson, and his alleged victim, Greg Elsenrath, remain in stable condition at St. Louis University Hospital.

Just a day after he was carried down four floors by co-workers with a gunshot wound to the chest and rushed to the hospital, friends of Greg Elsenrath said doctors have moved him out of intensive care.

"I know he's strong. Strong-minded, strong-willed and strong-hearted. He's going to come through it," said Jeff Keiser, Elsenrath's friend.

On Tuesday, police said the long-time financial aid advisor was shot in his office at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. According to charges filed against Sean Johnson Wednesday, he was upset over financial aid and used a Kel Tec PF-9 pistol with the serial number filed away to shoot Elsenrath and then himself.

According to court records, Johnson has been violent before, using a box cutter to attack a cab driver in 2009. For that crime, Johnson was given probation that required him to take prescription medication for a mental health condition.

"I don't think it's uncommon at all," said former Circuit Judge Susan Block.

Such probation is not uncommon, Block said. But enforcing it can be tough. Short of random blood testing, there's no way to know for sure if criminals are complying, she said.

"And who's going to pay for that?" she said. "So here's where we have to weigh is how important is it to have the kinds of resources that will make sure that what judges intend as a condition of probation are actually going to be enforced?"

In a phone interview, Sean Johnson's attorney in his 2009 case said he was a "productive member of society when he was on his medication, and he struggled when he wasn't."

Sean Johnson is expected to get out the hospital but won't be getting out of jail anytime soon after that. The judge in this most recent case has denied bond for Johnson.


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