by IVORY HECKER, FOX 26 TV
The jury trial in the murder of Anne-Christine Johnson of League City was supposed to start this week. Almost two years after her ex-husband Shaun Hardy was accused of murdering her, the trial has been delayed. It was in early January 2017 when Johnson’s body was found wrapped in a plastic sheet in Hardy’s garage. Johnson, who was 30 years old, had been missing for weeks. Hardy, who was 32 at the time, was charged with murder and with tampering with evidence with intent to impair her corpse.
The trial start date scheduled for Monday was canceled after a last-minute appeal. The defense filed a motion to withhold Hardy’s recorded statement at the police station from being used as evidence in the trial.
According to court documents, the court approved that request, signing an order suppressing evidence on Oct. 5. The prosecution then filed an appeal asking that the recording be used. This forced the trial to be delayed.
Johnson’s mom told FOX 26 News on Tuesday that she predicted her daughter’s murder and tried everything she could to stop it.
The waterfront outside Boondoggle’s, where Johnson worked as a server, was the scene of countless mother-daughter talks, explained Stephanie Johnson. The conversations often centered around Hardy, whom her daughter had divorced but continued to spend time with.
Stephanie would try to persuade her daughter to move out of League City and stay away from Hardy.
“Every time we would convince her to leave or stay with a family member, she would get sucked back into her abuser’s universe,” said Stephanie. She knew her daughter was in danger, especially after an assault that sent her to the hospital.
“In June 2015, he strangled her, he pistol-whipped her, he held a knife to her, he rammed her head through the wall,” described Stephanie. After that, Anne-Christine Johnson and Shaun Hardy filed restraining orders against each other but continued to see each other, so Stephanie continued to have those waterfront conversations with her daughter.
“I would say, ‘If he strangled you, he’s going to kill you,’ and I didn’t even call him by his name,” said Stephanie. “I said, ‘Your murderer, your murderer.'”
Stephanie added that just before her daughter’s death, Anne-Christine finally contacted Bay Area Turning Point, which provides help to domestic violence victims. She had scheduled a meeting about her alleged abuser, but Johnson said that’s when Hardy played his next big mind game.
“He told her that he had cancer,” said Stephanie.
Anne-Christine canceled those plans to make sure the son the couple shared was properly cared for, according to Johnson.
“To which I said, ‘Do you have a doctor’s note?'” recalled Stephanie. “Because it was a lie, just as with everything else that involves Shaun Hardy. It was a lie.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As Stephanie continues to wait for the trial in her daughter’s murder, she provided the following advice: “I was not able to save my daughter, so anyone who’s experiencing domestic violence, whether as a victim or a family member, I say, call the women’s shelter. Do not try to second guess what you should do or not do.”
If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, you can contact Bay Area Turning Point by phone at 281-286-2525 or the Houston Area Women’s Center at 713-528-2121.