Bellevue man gets prison term for killing friend, but ‘justice has not prevailed,’ says victim’s mom

Bellevue man gets prison term for killing friend, but ‘justice has not prevailed,’ says victim’s mom
Matthew Arnold

Nine years.

Matthew Johnson’s family and friends shouted “Nine years!” over and over Tuesday as they left a Douglas County courtroom.

Douglas County District Judge Timothy Burns had just sentenced Matthew Arnold, the man who fatally shot Johnson, to 16-20 years for manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Burns said Arnold, 32, will be eligible for parole in 9½ years and must be released after 11½.

Arnold had faced up to 70 years in prison.

Johnson’s family said the sentence wasn’t long enough. Not when they have been given a life sentence without Johnson, a father of five.

“Justice has not prevailed,” Rebecca Lewis, Johnson’s mother, said after the court hearing.

An Omaha police detective had testified that name-calling led Arnold, known as Stutters, to fatally shoot his friend.

Johnson, 32, was found shot in a home near 48th Avenue and Y Street on Dec. 6. Two witnesses told police they weren’t sure who started the argument but told officers that Arnold shot Johnson.

Johnson had been shot in the upper left thigh near his pelvis. An autopsy found that the bullet had hit an artery and a vein and then lodged in his right hamstring.

Officials said everyone in the house was high on methamphetamine at the time of the shooting and there was a delay in calling 911.

Johnson eventually was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center, where he died.

Arnold’s attorney told the judge that his client didn’t mean to shoot his friend and he’s remorseful and takes responsibility.

Prosecutors asked the judge for a tough sentence, citing Arnold’s longtime drug use, the many problems he has caused since going to jail and that as a convicted felon, Arnold shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place.

The judge said it appears there was no motive in the shooting beyond Arnold being high on drugs and having a gun.

Lewis, who was wearing a T-shirt with her son’s image on it, said after the hearing that she couldn’t sleep before the sentencing. She said she woke up Tuesday morning struggling to breathe.

Her son was a jokester, she said, and “wouldn’t tear wings off of a fly.”

And he died over a few words.

“People call me names,” Lewis said. “I don’t care. You have to be an adult.”