Cedar Rapids Man Will Serve 12 Years in Friend's Death

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids man originally charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his friend last June pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge.

Stephen Jerred Johnson, 39, pleaded guilty Jan. 31, to voluntary manslaughter and carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor.

He was also sentenced following the plea to 12 years in prison.

Johnson will have to serve five years before being eligible for parole.

Johnson stabbed Clifton West, after the two had spent the day barbequing and drinking June 25, 2013 , Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Besler said. West was stabbed after starting the fight and continuing the fight with Johnson.

Besler said Johnson didn't set out to kill West. There was a witness to the fight, who was a friend of West's, and after going through depositions in the case this was the appropriate resolution to the crime.

Somer Lekin,a former girlfriend of West's, told KCRG-TV9 after Johnson was charged that the two were friends and she couldn't believe what happened. Lekin had seen West earlier that day.

The judge also ordered Johnson to pay $150,000 to West's estate and $12,000 to the state crime victim's assistance program.
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