An Astoria man convicted in his uncle’s beating death said Friday that he loved him.
“What can I say? When there’s a loss of a loved one, sorry is too common,” Christopher Eric Johns, 46, said before he was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. “Love needs to show action. My emotions are deep-seated. I’m going to take this and walk with this and come out a better person.”
Johns entered an Alford plea in May to first-degree manslaughter. The plea means he asserts his innocence but recognizes prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction. He was originally charged with murder and fourth-degree assault before agreeing to a plea deal.
The plea stipulates he may be eligible for a reduced sentence after 10 years. People convicted of first-degree manslaughter are required to serve a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years in prison under state law.
Johns and his girlfriend had been living on-and-off with his uncle — Ronald Boudreau, 66 — at a home on U.S. Highway 101 Business prior to the March 2017 incident. Boudreau and his nephew would regularly drink together, often leading Johns to assault his uncle, Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said. Boudreau never reported the attacks.
“He never wanted his nephew to get arrested, so charges were never filed,” Brown said.
One night, Johns repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped on Boudreau. When Johns’ girlfriend tried to intervene, he allegedly assaulted her before she fled.
Johns then dragged Boudreau out to a trailer and left him inside before leaving. When Johns checked the trailer the next day, Boudreau was dead. An autopsy revealed he had died from blunt-force trauma, including a crushed chest, nine broken ribs and injuries to his face and scalp.
“It would be an extremely painful and slow way to die,” Brown said.
Authorities found the body later that day, and Johns was arrested in Portland two days later.
“The fight that we had was out of stupidity, alcohol and frickin’ human jealousy,” Johns said.
Johns has faced numerous felony and misdemeanor charges in Clatsop County since 1992, including convictions for menacing, theft, criminal mischief, burglary, driving under the influence of intoxicants and assault.
Circuit Court Judge Dawn McIntosh said she hopes Johns can better himself, but she is not optimistic.
“This is an extremely sad case,” McIntosh said before referencing the previous times Johns had attacked Boudreau. “I wonder what he was thinking in those last moments?”
Johns apologized to members of his family who were in court for the hearing. He said some of them now look at him with contempt, but said he probably loved his uncle “more than any of them.”
As part of the plea agreement, Johns will be required to pay $1,792 for his uncle’s funeral expenses.
“I miss you, Ronny,” Johns said. “You’re in that band in the sky and I will be with you soon.”