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Salina woman found guilty of killing neighbor

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A Salina, Sevier County, mother of four has been convicted of murder in the beating death of a neighbor.

Cindy Johnson, 34, was convicted of the first-degree felony Thursday following a four-day trial. Jurors took nearly four hours before deciding she is guilty of the Dec. 28 slaying of Dean V. Nielsen, 70, also of Salina.She will be sentenced Tuesday, March 10, by 6th District Judge K. L. McIff. The first-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of five years to life in prison.

The prosecution's case centered around mostly circumstantial evidence. The murder weapon was never found. Investigators believe Nielsen was killed with a baseball bat.

Police officers went to Nielsen's apartment after receiving a report of a television blaring loudly. They discovered his body in a recliner chair in his apartment.

Johnson lived in the same apartment complex and frequently visited him.

Investigators believe Johnson killed Nielsen for drugs. Johnson reportedly knew Nielsen was taking strong prescription drugs for pain, such as Percocet and morphine, because of a crushed hip. Police found an empty prescription bottle near Salina Creek, along with other items owned by Johnson.

Since her arrest, Johnson has been held in the Sevier County Jail. Her children have been living with their fathers.