Man Sentenced To 123 Years In Prison Hangs Himself

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A Maryland man hung himself in his prison cell the day after being sentenced to 123 years behind bars.

George Johnson, 28, was found unresponsive on the floor of his prison cell on Dec. 15, 2017, by an officer that was making his rounds, the Daily Mail reported. The medical examiner's office determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation by hanging.

Johnson had been convicted of false imprisonment and reckless endangerment after an incident in 2016 in which he fled from police and held four people hostage inside of a local Burger King restaurant in Baltimore.

The suspect was reportedly armed with a semi-automatic handgun during the standoff, which lasted more than five hours. Johnson said he tried to elude police after being pulled over because he had a gun in his vehicle.

Officers pulled Johnson over because he was driving a vehicle they had suspected of being associated with a rape that occurred the day prior. That's when Johnson crashed the vehicle and tried to escape by foot.

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Johnson reportedly forced three employees along with a 7-year-old girl into the manager's office of the local Burger King. He released two employees and made one of them throw his firearm out of the window before releasing the last two hostages and surrendering to police.

Johnson was acquitted of some of the more serious charges he faced -- first- and second-degree assault and use of a firearm in a violent crime. Still, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa Phinn sentenced him to 123 years in prison on Dec. 14, 2017.

A day later, Johnson was found dead. His attorney, Anne Marie Gering, said the sentence was "very excessive and demoralizing" to her client, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Gering said Johnson did not threaten any of the hostages at any point during the incident. She said Johnson was trying to plan a way to escape from the police. Based on her client's conviction and criminal history, Gering said Johnson's sentencing guidelines called for anywhere between one to 17 years behind bars.

Under Maryland law, false imprisonment is considered a "common law" charge with no predetermined penalty so long as it is not "cruel and unusual." Johnson was given 25 years for each count.

"There needs to be a statutory maximum given to that charge to give guidance for what we intend the maximum to be," Gering told The Baltimore Sun.

State Attorney Marilyn Mosby has since issued a statement.

"I pray that the victims in this case will be able to heal from the emotional scars caused by such a traumatic experience," Mosby said.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Baltimore Sun / Featured Image: bloomsberries/Flickr / Embedded Images: Baltimore Police via The Baltimore Sun, Ardfern/Wikimedia Commons

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