‘Eastside rapist’ Billy Ray Johnson resentenced as judge decides to keep firearm enhancements in place

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County judge Wednesday morning decided to keep firearm sentencing enhancements in place as he resentenced the man dubbed the “Eastside rapist” who terrorized the city in 2013.

Judge Charles R. Brehmer’s decision means Billy Ray Johnson will continue to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 185 years and eight months, court records show.

Brehmer said Johnson, 39, deserved every minute of the time to which he was sentenced.

District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said afterward, “Billy Ray Johnson victimized multiple women and children in a series of despicable rapes and sexual assaults that terrorized an entire community. As one of Kern County’s worst criminals, he deserves no leniency, and I’m proud to report that today he received none.” 

Previously, firearm enhancements were mandatory if the prosecution proved a defendant used a gun during a felony crime. The law changed in 2018 to give judges discretion on whether to impose or strike the enhancement.

Since Johnson was sentenced before the law took effect, his case was returned to Kern County for that decision.

During the summer of 2013, Johnson broke into homes and raped three women, attempted to rape another and molested a child in attacks that occurred July 1 and 18, and Aug. 1 and 19.

Three of the assaults occurred in east Bakersfield, and one in the city’s northeast.

In appealing his 2015 conviction, Johnson argued he was not provided with discovery regarding the analysis of DNA used to support his conviction. Also, he said he was improperly prevented from presenting certain expert testimony related to the DNA testing.

An appellate court last year found “overwhelming evidence” of Johnson’s guilt was presented at trial even without the contested DNA results. It affirmed each of the 24 counts of which he was convicted.

DNA evidence linked Johnson to the rapes. Investigators found his DNA at three of the crime scenes, including sperm found inside a pair of pants worn by one of the victims.

His DNA was also found on a zip tie he dropped at a home where a child had called 911 after freeing herself from her bonds.

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