Alleged wife-slayer’s ex-girlfriend to take the stand

Against the advice of her attorney, the former mistress of accused wife-killer Quincy Norton will take the stand this morning as a witness for the defense.

Anitra Johnson has emerged as one of the key pieces to the case after a routine DNA test at the eve of trial revealed her biological material on a knife blade inside the Nortons’ Daly City kitchen.

Norton, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 22, 2006, stabbing death of Tamika Mack Norton, 31. Prosecutors have told jurors that Norton was a batterer who killed his wife after she filed for divorce.

Defense attorney Patricia Fox contends that the blade with Johnson’s DNA is the murder weapon. Prosecution witnesses testified last week, however, that the biological material was instead found on another knife in the kitchen that did not match Tamika Norton’s wounds.

Johnson took the stand briefly on Tuesday outside the presence of jurors as Judge Craig Parsons asked her if she planned to invoke her Fifth Amendment right, which protects against self-incrimination.

The South Bay resident fell silent for a full minute before telling the judge she would testify. Her attorney, Michael DeVoy, told Parsons he had strongly advised her against testifying.

Outside of court, Johnson said she defied her attorney’s advice in the hopes she can offer information that has been left out of the case. Johnson said she believes Norton is innocent, and that rivals he made “hanging out in the streets” may have killed his wife. “He may have not been the most honest husband, but that doesn’t make him a murderer,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who has a 7-year-old daughter with Norton, was originally charged with aiding and abetting Norton when he was on the lam after Tamika Norton’s death. Those charges were later dropped.

The DNA revelation and trial publicity has made life difficult for her and her four children, Johnson said. Relatives she hasn’t heard from in years are calling her, and coworkers at her administrative job bring in newspaper coverage that implies she is the real killer, she said.

“I wake up every day and say, ‘Is this nightmare over?” she asked.

tbarak@examiner.com

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