Former court reporter found injured on judge’s propertyBR>

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2001

Hinds County Sheriff’s deputies stand Thursday near their patrol cars at the entrance to property owned by Warren County Judge Gerald Hosemann. The judge’s former court reporter was discovered there and was being treated today for injuries. No one has been charged.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[12/7/01]A Vicksburg woman remained in intensive care today after reportedly being found Thursday injured on Hinds County property of Warren County Judge Gerald Hosemann for whom she was formerly a court reporter.

Family members and other sources said Juanita “Nita” Johnston, 47, who lives in Vicksburg, had been beaten.

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Hinds County Sheriff’s Department officials, who are investigating, said their office would issue no statement.

Johnston was found around 5 a.m. on the secluded piece of property near Utica, sources said. The property at 1190 Puckett Drive where she was found is owned by Hosemann, who held court Thursday but could not be found for comment this morning.

Johnston was taken to ParkView Regional Medical Center where family members said she had been questioned by Hinds County authorities. Johnston’s brother-in-law, Paul Jabour of Utica, described her injuries as a concussion, multiple bruises and hypothermia. Family members also said she was heavily sedated.

“She’s in extreme pain,” said Susan Jabour, Johnston’s sister. “But they say she is going to be OK.”

Paul Jabour said family members had not spoken to Johnston since Tuesday and they have not spoken to her about what happened.

“She can’t talk. She just mutters and groans a lot,” Susan Jabour said.

“We’re not going to make any statement at this time,” Hinds Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said Thursday night. A spokesman in his office said the same thing this morning.

Johnston, a retired court reporter, had worked at the Warren County Courthouse for Hosemann.

Vicksburg Attorney Travis Vance Jr., said this morning that he was contacted by Johnston’s family Thursday morning around 1:30 to help look for her. Vance said that in the process of the search, he was told by a man who owns property near Hosemann’s land that Hosemann had been seen arguing with Johnston Tuesday night near the place where she was found two days later.

Vance said he then contacted Hosemann and picked him up at his home, at 549 Warriors Trail in Vicksburg, at about 2 a.m. He said they returned to the Hinds County property to continue in the search.

Vance said he was not there when Hosemann and Billy Leist found Johnston about 10 feet behind the back door of the mobile home.

“Jerry opened the back door and called for her and she moaned,” Vance said he was later told.

Vance said that Leist took Johnston to the hospital and he has talked with Hosemann since she was found.

“He says he has nothing to do with it,” Vance said this morning.

Bobby Christian, who lives on Newman Road near Hosemann’s property, said he saw Hosemann there on Wednesday, the day before Johnston was found.

“I saw him,” Christian said. “He was jogging down the road.”

Another man who lives in the area said Hinds County deputies had been to his home Thursday looking for Hosemann. He said he had not seen Hosemann and did not know the last time Hosemann had been there.

The man said Hosemann hunted on the land and kept horses there. The neighbor also said he did not know if anyone was living on the property.

Neither of the neighbors reported seeing Johnston in the area before she was found Thursday.

Sgt. Steve Pickett with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department said this morning that authorities have not questioned Hosemann and that no arrests have been made.

In 1998, Hosemann was named in a lawsuit filed by Johnston’s former husband. In that suit, Joseph Johnston said Hosemann was the cause of marital problems that led to the Johnstons’ divorce in 1996.

The case was later dismissed.

Hosemann was also divorced from his wife of 26 years in 1997. Valerie Hosemann was granted the divorce on the grounds of adultery, according to court records. He has since remarried.

Hosemann, 49, has been the Warren County Court judge and Warren County Youth Court judge for 15 years. Before seeking that office in 1986, he had been in private practice in Vicksburg for 10 years. He was re-elected without opposition in 1999.

Youth Court was in session Thursday morning, but nothing is scheduled for today. Repeated phone calls to Hosemann’s home on Warriors Trail and to the mobile home in Utica have been unanswered.

A woman in Hosemann’s office at the Warren County Courthouse said this morning that she had not spoken with Hosemann and did not know if he would be in today.