Daniel Johnson pleads guilty to second-degree murder of long-time friend


Daniel Johnson, 63, of Hopkins, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his long-time friend, 66-year-old Clayton Kartak, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.

Johnson will be sentenced Oct. 23. Prosecutors are seeking between 165 months to 189 months in prison. He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning during pre-trial proceedings. During his guilty plea, Johnson claimed he had no actual memory of the murder because he blacked out after mixing his prescribed medication, alcohol and marijuana “gummies.”

According to the criminal complaint, on March 29, Hopkins Police were called around 10:30 p.m. to Kartak’s apartment complex with reports from other renters of a man holding a large knife with blood on his hands, knocking on apartment doors and making incoherent statements. He then curled up in a fetal position on the floor in the hallway and dropped the knife at his feet.

When police arrived, Johnson still was on the floor and appeared to be unconscious. He was not wearing shoes and had blood on the heels of his socks and hem of his jeans. They handcuffed him and he appeared intoxicated. He had a preliminary blood alcohol level of .18 and admitted to consuming “pot gummies,” the complaint states.

Police entered Kartak’s apartment and found him dead on the living room floor. He had a deep cut across his throat and stab wounds to his torso. Witnesses and surveillance video indicate that Johnson and the victim had been friends a long time and he biked over to Kartak’s apartment around 4:40 p.m. to hang out as they often did, drinking and consuming marijuana.

Daniel Johnson Complaint (PDF)