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Prior charges had been dropped against ex-con accused in murder of Elgin artist

Court proceedings continue murder case Paul Johns35 charged with brutal stabbing death 33-year-old LisKoziol-Ellis Elg2013. | ElgPolice Dept. pho

Court proceedings continue in the murder case of Paul Johnson, 35, charged with the brutal stabbing death of 33-year-old Lisa Koziol-Ellis of Elgin in 2013. | Elgin Police Dept. photo

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Updated: April 28, 2013 6:42AM

ELGIN — Paul A. Johnson nearly faced his third felony count last year — a charge that could have left the man accused in the March 2 stabbing death of neighbor Lisa Koziol-Ellis in prison for a lengthy term.

But the charges were dropped when his accuser couldn’t show up in court.

Neither did the charges trigger the return of Johnson — a parolee — to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Johnson, 34, of Elgin, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on Oct. 15, 2012, accused of knocking a man down outside an Elgin bar and kicking him in the face while wearing steel-toed boots in the early morning hours of July 8, 2012.

His victim, Brian Gavenia, 36, of Bartlett, was airlifted from Elgin’s Presence Saint Joseph Hospital to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood with a concussion, broken nose and skull fractures, authorities said. He underwent surgery and ended up with 47 staples to sew up the injuries, according to Elgin police reports.

Less than a month after the arrest, however, Cook County dropped the charges against Johnson. By the time Johnson was arrested in connection with the beating, Gavenia was in jail himself — locked up in Kane County on charges of domestic battery and aggravated battery to a police officer in South Elgin just days after Johnson’s arrest.

The charge of aggravated battery to a police officer came when Gavenia — handcuffed on one arm to a booking station — struck an officer in the chest with his free hand, police said.

His victim in the domestic violence case told police that night Gavenia was on pain medications and had been drinking, reports stated.

On a plea deal, Gavenia was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

High-risk offender

According to Cook County court records, the bond call judge was aware of Johnson’s past when he appeared in a Rolling Meadows courtroom on Oct. 16. The bond assessment form notes that Johnson was a high-risk offender — earning a score of 11 on a 0-to-10-plus scale noting he would need highly restrictive conditions if released on bail. Johnson’s bail was set at $50,000 on those charges.

For a Nov. 14 preliminary hearing, Johnson’s public defender subpoenaed Gavenia to show up in court. But since he was in the Kane County jail, Gavenia was not transported.

Johnson was able to walk out of the Cook County Jail that day and return to his mother’s home on the first block of Garden Crescent Court in Elgin.

He was charged last week in the March 2 murder of Lisa Koziol-Ellis — his neighbor just three doors down. According to police, Johnson admitted to a friend that he’d broken into the home with a screwdriver to burglarize the residence and was confronted by Koziol-Ellis.

Again facing a likely third felony charge if police were called, Johnson allegedly used that screwdriver to stab the 33-year-old Koziol-Ellis, according to Elgin police.

As a two-time convicted felon, Johnson was on parole for a 2010 residential burglary at the time. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 48 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He had served just over 18 months on that sentence when he was released on parole.

He had a previous armed robbery charge out of Kane County and served nine of his 11-year prison sentence on those charges.

Because the charges were dropped in the July 8, 2012, beating case, there was nothing the IDOC could use to send Johnson back, according to a department spokeswoman.

“Johnson remained in local custody from the time the charges were filed until they were dropped,” said Stacey Solano of the DOC media relations office. “Our violation would have been based on those charges and, without them, at that time there was nothing necessitating his return to an IDOC facility.”

Johnson is to appear in a Kane County courtroom at 9 a.m. Wednesday for his initial appearance on the murder charge.

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