DeKalb woman sentenced to 5 years for killing her child’s father with her kids nearby

A Lithonia woman accused of shooting and killing the father of one of her children has been convicted by a jury in DeKalb County.

According to a release from the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office, jurors returned guilty verdicts Friday against Quaneesha Nicole Johnson, 30, on charges of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault-family violence, two counts of cruelty to children in the third degree, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

On November 26, 2022, Johnson had gone out clubbing with her friends and left her three children with Demonte Smith, 29, the father of her youngest child.

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Smith expected Johnson to return home at 6 a.m. and when she did not return, he called her several times. The release detailed that Smith was worried because Johnson had called him earlier that night and said she and her friends got into a fight with other people in the club.

Smith called some members of Johnson’s family, who also became worried because her phone was off.

They all called local hospitals and jails looking for her.

The DA’s release stated that around 9 a.m., Johnson turned her phone back on and saw text messages from Smith. She called her family members, who conference-called Smith into the conversation. Smith was angry and threatened to hit her when she got home.

According to the investigation, Johnson called 911 to ask for a police escort to her home in Lithonia on Nov. 27, 2022.

When she returned to the home about two hours later, one of the DeKalb County police officers who responded told her to put her gun in her car.

The release from the district attorney stated that Johnson told the officer there were no other weapons in the house. Police say Smith came outside and argued with Johnson in front of the officers. The officers tried to resolve their dispute, but say Johnson continued to talk over them and was combative with them.

The officers sent Johnson and Smith inside the house to calm down.

The release details the moment when Johnson asked officers about self-defense.

As she walked inside, Johnson asked the officers what would happen if she shot Smith “in self-defense” and told them that she had already looked up the self-defense law.

Officers remained at the home and planned to give the couple a few minutes to calm down.

Before that could happen, Johnson went back outside, grabbed a metal tire iron and her gun from her car, and went back inside the house.

She told one of her children to call 911 and say that Smith had hit her.

Johnson then hit Smith in the head with the tire iron and then shot him.

According to details from the DA press release, the gunshot can be heard on the 911 call, as well as Johnson repeatedly saying “bye” to Smith.


Smith went outside and told the officers, “She hit me in the head with a metal thing and then shot me. Hurry before I die.”

Smith then collapsed.

Johnson was arrested by the officers.

During an interview at police headquarters, she admitted Smith did not hit her that day.

The DA said investigators later learned Smith had requested a rideshare to leave the house, but was killed just minutes before it arrived.

The state requested that Johnson be sentenced to 25 years in prison and five on probation.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Shondeana Morris sentenced Johnson to 10 years in confinement, split between five years in prison and five more under house arrest with an additional 10 years on probation.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson’s attorney, Michael Sterling, said his client called 911 three times that day after receiving threatening messages from Smith, and that she flagged down a police escort after officers didn’t arrive for two hours.

In court, the judge said she believed on the day of the incident, Johnson took all of the necessary steps to ensure her safety.

“Miss Johnson, I believe that you took all of the necessary steps to ensure your safety after Mr. Smith had threatened to inflict bodily harm upon you,” said Judge Morris.

She continued on saying it didn’t matter how long Johnson stayed out or who her kids were left with, it did not cause for threats of bodily harm.

“That does not constitute that somebody would threaten you with serious bodily injury,” she said. “You called the alarm company, you called local law enforcement not once, not twice, but three times.”

Smith reportedly had a history of domestic abuse.

According to the AJC, Sterling said Smith was previously prosecuted by the attorney’s office for aggravated stalking, battery and domestic violence.

“The deceased had a history of abuse and had threatened to beat and kill other women before,” Sterling said.

Johnson’s attorney, Michael Sterling, told the AJC that the jury rejected the state’s case that Johnson acted “intentionally and with malice,” and that “the court is aware of critical issues that make the likelihood of motion for new trial and appeal cognizable.”

The state requested that Johnson be taken into custody immediately upon being found guilty, but she will not yet begin her sentence because the judge granted her an appeal bond over the state’s objection.

He added, “Accordingly, the court permitted Ms. Johnson to remain out on bond while the appeal is pending. Unfortunately, the State never saw Ms. Johnson as a victim of domestic violence and failed to protect her even though she sought police protection time and time again. Our system has to do better to avoid tragedies like this in the future.”

Judge Morris ordered Johnson to be placed on house arrest while her attorney appeals her conviction.

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