Stillwater prison inmate in court Friday on 1st degree murder charges

The Stillwater prison inmate accused of murdering a corrections officer last month was in court Friday to face more serious charges. 

Edward Johnson, 42, was initially charged with second-degree murder and assault in the murder of Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater on July 18. Prosecutors described the killing as merciless. 

Now, a grand jury has approved the charges to be upgraded to first-degree murder. That means Johnson not only intended to kill Gomm, but the murder was premeditated. 

Johnson was serving a 29-year sentence for killing his former girlfriend in 2002. He has a violent criminal history, including a previous assault on a guard in the Hennepin County Jail. 

If convicted of first-degree murder, he would face life in prison without the chance of parole. 

Following the deadly attack, the prison was put on lock down and Johnson was transferred to the maximum-security facility in Oak Park Heights.