A hearing is underway in a federal courtroom in Sioux City as the first woman given a death sentence since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976 challenges her conviction and sentence. The attorneys for Angela Johnson of Forest City claim that she was incompetent and had ineffective lawyers when she was convicted in federal court in 2005 in the 1993 drug-related slayings of three adults and two children from the Mason City area.

Their bodies were found seven years later in shallow graves between Mason City and Clear Lake. An official with the U.S. District Clerk of Court’s office says an evidentiary hearing started on Monday and is scheduled to last until the end of the week. A similar hearing is scheduled for the week of June 13th. Johnson’s boyfriend Dustin Honken was also convicted in the deaths and received a death sentence.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City