The trial of a Cedar Falls man charged with two counts of first-degree murder has ended one week before it was scheduled to start. In a suprise move, Ryan Johnson entered a guilty plea to one count of first-degree murder in Black Hawk County district court Monday morning. Under a plea agreement, the 27-year-old Johnson admitted to fatally shooting his step-father — off-duty Waterloo police officer Richard Harned — in his Cedar Falls home on September 3rd, 2003. As part of the agreement, the state dismissed all charges related to the murder of Suzanne Harned, Johnson’s mother and a former Waterloo police dispatcher. Johnson was immediately sentenced to life in prison. Attorneys had planned to use a diminished capacity defense in a trial that was scheduled to start next week in Dubuque. Johnson’s attorney says the plea agreement will spare the victims’ families more grief.
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