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franklin county times

Grogan family prepared for parole hearing

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
April 19, 2001
Family members of Eileen Grogan will ask the Mississippi Parole Board today to keep the man convicted of her murder behind bars.
Nineteen years after her death, Grogan's name is still remembered throughout Meridian. At 57, she was the victim of a brutal homicide at the hands of a habitual criminal, Leon Johnson.
It was Dec. 4, 1982, six months after Johnson had been paroled on an Alabama rape conviction, that Grogan's life came to an end.
She had been a Super Stop convenience store employee for 15 years, and ran the Eighth Street business as if she owned it herself, said her son, Raymond Grogan.
Eileen Grogan encountered Johnson when he stopped at the store after leaving a downtown nightclub.
At 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing roughly 90 pounds, Grogan was no match for Johnson, who killed her by beating her head repeatedly against a metal beam. Johnson then dragged Grogan's body to a room at the rear of the store, draped Grogan's work coat over his shoulder and began to wait on customers.
Carl Maloney, a police officer on duty that night, came into the store to check out suspicious reports. Before Maloney could react, Johnson allegedly had pulled his gun, shot him twice and fled the scene.
Johnson was never convicted of shooting Maloney since Maloney could not identify him and the gun was never found.
A few weeks after the murder, Choctaw County, Ala., Sheriff Donald Lolley arrested Johnson. He remembers the incident well.
Johnson was convicted of capital murder by a Lauderdale County jury and placed on death row in December 1982. Four years later, Mississippi Supreme Court justices overturned the conviction based on pretrial publicity. Johnson was granted a new trial and a change of venue.
Crane's sister, Rita Crane, will also attend the hearing.
Johnson's last parole hearing was in 1997. He was not due for another until 2002, but because of a change in parole board members, the new board must review all cases denied by the previous board.
Grogan said he has prepared a message for the new parole board members.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.