Local News

Couple gets probation in case linked to Satanism

Posted November 27, 2009 9:42 a.m. EST

— A Durham couple whose crimes were linked to Satan worship pleaded to misdemeanor charges and will serve probation, a defense attorney said.

Joseph Scott Craig, 25, entered an Alford plea Friday – in which the accused maintains innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to possibly win a conviction – to charges of assault inflicting serious injury and assault on a female.

Craig, his wife, Joy Johnson, 30, and Dianna Palmer, 44, of Cottage Woods Court, were charged last year after a man and a woman told police they were beaten, shackled to beds, kept in dog cages and starved inside a home on Albany Street.

The case against Palmer was dismissed in January.

Johnson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting, Craig’s attorney, Woody Vann, said. Both were sentenced to two 60-day suspended sentences and a year of probation.

According to the search warrant in the case, the male victim went to live with the couple in November 2007, the female victim a month later.

Prosecutors said the victims met Craig through a shared interest in Satan worship, but that they never consented to physical abuse.

The warrant says that between December 2007 and June 2008, the male victim alleged he “sustained numerous beatings and abuse from Craig … Johnson instigated and encouraged Craig” during those incidents.

In defending Craig, Vann said, "The acts were consensual if they happened at all.”