Judge allows cameras at arraignment for Aloha suspect

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HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — The man accused of killing a young mother from Aloha and leaving her dismembered body in the trunk of a car appeared in court again Thursday.

Jeremiah Johnston faces charges of murder and abuse of a corpse in the Jan. 25 murder of Sara Zghoul. Court documents allege Johnston did “dismember, mutilate, cut and strike a corpse.”

Johnston’s attorney asked for TV cameras to be banned at the indictment because video of the proceedings and the suspect in prison clothes could taint a jury. The prosecutor argued the courtroom is a public place and media has the right to gather information for the public. The judge denied the request. 

Jeremiah Johnston in a series of mugshots provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. From left, October 26, 2011; Top, January 7 and July 8, 2014; Bottom, June 9, 2015 and August 22, 2017

Zghoul’s body was found in a black BMW in the Aloha neighborhood where she and the suspect both lived. Johnston was found nearby with self-inflicted injuries to his neck. 

The suspect has a history of trouble with the law. In 2011, he was charged with driving under the influence. In 2013, he was accused of forging a prescription for oxycodone by using a doctor’s ID and was convicted of identity theft. In 2015 he was charged with delivery of cocaine and possession of heroine and meth and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In 2017, he was charged again with possession of cocaine in Multnomah County.

Undated photos of Sara Zghoul, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in Aloha on Jan. 25, 2018. (Courtesy of Zghoul’s family)

Johnston will appear in court again on Feb. 26. 

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