Axe-wielder gets 3-7 years in state prison

A Williamsport man who chased houseguests with an axe on New Year’s Eve 2010 was sentenced to state prison time on Thursday.

Lane M. Johnson, 43, will go to state prison for 44 to 88 months – minus credit for over a year served in Lycoming County Prison – on two counts of aggravated assault stemming from the Dec. 31, 2010, incident at his 1213 Memorial Ave. home.

Four people in addition to Johnson were in the home for a card game when Johnson picked up an axe and started swinging. He struck his door several times while a neighbor couple escaped, then went upstairs to a bedroom where he swung the axe at a couple resting there, before he was subdued.

When they responded to the call, city police found a distraught woman screaming, with her arms and hands covered in blood.

During his sentencing hearing, Judge Nancy Butts asked Johnson about that blood.

“That was my blood,” Johnson said. “She beat me with, like, a fifth bottle of liquor – it ruptured my eardrum and split my head open for what I did to them, I don’t mind.”

Police found Johnson shouting obscenties and held down on a bed by one guest. Johnson was clutching a double-edged axe and was intoxicated.

“I still don’t remember anything,” he said. “I most assuredly told them to go home – then I threatened them.”

Sam McHenry, a cellmate of Johnson’s in Lycoming County Prison for a time, offered words of support during sentencing.

“We became good friends in a bad way,” McHenry said. “He helped me out with a lot of things We’re total strangers, and I’m supporting him – something tells me to support the guy.”

“I’ve never had (a cellmate come in) in my years here,” Public Defender Nicole Spring said. “(McHenry) was seeking me out to know when (Johnson) was having his second sentencing … it’s unusual for someone who is 42 years old on an attempted murder charge to come in with priors of bad checks and a pending DUI.”

Spring asked Butts to impose a sentence on only one count of aggravated assault.

“I don’t think there’s overwhelming benefits of locking a person up and throwing away the key,” Butts said. “But we can’t overlook that there was more than one victim in this case this sort of behavior isn’t going to be accepted by the community.

“You know that from Jan. 1, 2011, until the day you die, you can never touch alcohol again,” Butts told Johnson.