Texas appeals court says no new trial for woman who stabbed DeKalb man to death


A woman who was sentenced to life in prison last year for stabbing a 71-year-old man to death in 2015 has been denied a new trial by a Texas appeals court in Texarkana.

Shirley Ann Falkowski, 57, was found guilty of murder in January 2021 in the August 2015 death of James Earl Johnson. The 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana issued an opinion Monday upholding her conviction and life sentence.

Falkowski, who has served time for a similar murder in Missouri, claimed she was coerced by law enforcement into confessing to Johnson’s murder in 2019. The 6th Court of Appeals reviewed the trial transcript and exhibits, including a video recording of Falkowski’s confession. The appellate court found there was no coercion and that Falkowski’s admission of guilt was voluntary.

Falkowski was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1998 after pleading guilty to murder in St. Louis, Missouri. In that case, Falkowski stabbed a man and used crack cocaine after the crime.

Johnson was stabbed more than 70 times and his body was discovered by staff at his Housing Authority apartment in DeKalb the afternoon of Aug. 5, 2015. DNA testing revealed Johnson’s blood in a car Falkowski had borrowed Aug. 4 and returned to the owner during the day Aug. 5, 2015.

A pair of shoes with tread matching bloody prints at the crime scene was found in a dumpster just outside the trailer where Falkowski was living at the time of Johnson’s death. Falkowski was recorded by a bank camera attempting to withdraw money from an ATM with Johnson’s debit card at around midnight Aug. 5.

A witness at Falkowski’s trial in Bowie County testified that she tried to buy crack cocaine from him the night of Aug. 4, 2015, with money that was covered in blood.

Falkowski confessed to committing the crime in February 2019 to Texas Ranger Greg Wilson. She later claimed her confession was false.

Falkowski is currently in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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