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Woman Stabs Street Performer at Chicago Train Stop

sawyer-bengtson-279792-copy-200x300Critics can be difficult for fledgling artists to take, but most criticism is constructive and nonviolent. This was not the case for a Chicago busker who ran into the wrong woman at the wrong time. 38-year-old Barbara Johnson stabbed 28-year-old street performer, Michael Malinowski, at the Jackson El Stop because she claimed that his music was “giving her a headache.”

Malinowski, who is better known as Machete Mike, had his guitar plugged into an amplifier. Johnson allegedly unplugged the guitar from the amplifier and threw it onto the tracks before stabbing Malinowski. Prosecutors allege that she also attempted to push Malinowski onto the tracks, but failed to do so. It was then that she settled for his guitar and took out a knife and stabbed him.

Johnson was arrested at the scene and has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery in a public place, and criminal damage to property.

Malinowski was not badly injured in the exchange. He was taken to Northwestern Hospital where he was treated for lacerations to his arm. Johnson was denied bail, even in an era of a money-free bail system. The judge called her a clear and present danger to society.

How Would an Attorney Approach This Case?

The woman was caught red-handed (not a metaphor) and essentially admitted to being the one who stabbed Malinowski, so it is difficult to say what sort of defense she could offer that a judge or jury would accept. In cases like this, a defense attorney would look for “affirmative” defenses to the crime. Affirmative defenses essentially admit that the crime occurred but either say that the crime was justified or that the person who committed the crime should not be held responsible.

One common example of an affirmative defense is a self-defense plea. In this case, it appears the woman instigated everything that happened, so that would be a tough sell to a judge or a jury. Furthermore, it does not appear that the performer retaliated in any way.

A less-common affirmative defense is an insanity plea. Insanity pleas essentially admit that the defendant committed the crime, but did not know what they were doing or were not capable of understanding right from wrong. 

The second option has the most potential. An attorney would essentially say that Barbara Johnson was not in her right mind at the time of the attack and that society’s interests would be better served by remanding her to the care of a psychiatric facility where she could receive the treatment that she needs. While insanity pleas are exceedingly rare to win, mental health issues can be offered up as mitigating circumstances in criminal trials. If the prosecution is not interested in pursuing a trial, they may offer a more favorable sentence, reduced charges, or dismiss some of the charges against the defendant.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with a violent crime such as attacking a street performer with a knife, then you need an attorney skilled enough to negotiate a plea on your behalf. Call the Chicago criminal defense attorney, David Freidberg, today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.