Texas appeals court upholds life sentence for woman who stabbed DeKalb man to death after previous murder conviction in another state

TEXARKANA, Texas — A woman sentenced to life last year by a Bowie County jury in the 2015 stabbing death of an elderly DeKalb man has been denied her bid for a new trial in a notice issued Monday by a Texas appeals court.

Shirley Ann Falkowski, 57, was convicted of murder and sentenced to the maximum sentence after a trial in January 2021. The Texarkana 6th Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and sentence on Monday.

During the three-day trial, witnesses said Falkowski and James Earl Johnson Sr., 71, were friends who may have had a romantic relationship at some point. A car that Falkowski borrowed from a friend and was driving on August 4, 2015, turned out to have a bloodstain with Johnson’s genetic profile. A bloody shoe print matching slip-on shoes found in the dumpster next to Falkowski’s trailer was stained with Johnson’s blood.

Johnson’s body was discovered on August 5, 2014. He had been stabbed 71 times.

At trial, a witness testified that Falkowski gave her “blood money” on the night of August 4, 2015, or in the early hours of August 5, 2015, which she hoped to exchange for crack cocaine. The facts of the case mirrored those of a murder in Missouri that Falkowski served time for committing in that state after pleading guilty to murder and armed felony in 1998.

Falkowski stabbed a man to death in St. Louis, left his body in a car in an alley, threw bloody clothes in a dumpster, then used crack cocaine, according to testimony during his 2021 trial in Bowie County. Falkowski received a 12-year term in Missouri.

On appeal of her conviction in Bowie County, Falkowski complained that the jury should have been instructed by the trial judge to disregard her 2019 confession to Texas Ranger Greg Wilson if they believed she made his statement involuntarily or under duress. The higher court rejected Falkowski’s arguments, noting that “Wilson’s tone of voice was measured, calm, polite and professional. He never raised his voice or acted intimidating in any way.”

The appeals court further found that Wilson did not promise leniency or anything else when he asked Falkowski to “let me help you help Mr. Johnson” or when he expressed the view that judges and juries looked more favorably on defendants who tell the truth.

Falkowski is being held in the Crain Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville, Texas. According to the TDCJ website, Falkowski will be eligible for parole in 2049. Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.

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