The Vermont Department of Corrections announced the death of Kenneth Johnson, 60, at the Northern State Correctional Facility. He was transported to the hospital and was pronounced dead at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. Currently, the cause of death appears to be natural causes.

Kenneth Johnson is a 60-year old male who was held without bail pending charges for Human Trafficking Compelled Commercial Sex Act, Sexual Assault – Victim under 16, and Aggravated Human Trafficking – Child Under 18 Years of Age. Johnson had been incarcerated since Sept. 23, 2017.

Johnson was taken from the Caledonia County Courthouse by EMS workers after complaining of chest pains during a court hearing in early October. Johnson was in court at the time for a pre-trial conference just prior to the intended start of a jury trial scheduled October.

Johnson told the court he was unhappy with his court appointed defense attorney and requested a new one. After the hearing, Johnson was returned to a holding cell on a lower floor of the court house where he then complained of chest pains.

Crews from the St. Johnsbury Fire Department and CALEX Ambulance responded and transported Johnson to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. He was later returned to prison and the court postponed his trial to hold a hearing on his request for a new lawyer.

Johnson and another New York man, Harry S. “Eyez” Williams, 43, were accused in September 2017 of human trafficking by picking up a 15-year-old school girl in Lyndonville and repeatedly paying her to have sex. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In August, Williams changed his plea to guilty to multiple charges in exchange for a sentence of 15-30 years — all suspended except for eight years with credit for time served, sex offender conditions of probation and $588 in court surcharges, but later told the court he wanted to withdraw his plea agreement telling the court that he didn’t know his release date could be affected by his conduct in prison such as fighting or not completing programming.

Johnson’s next of kin have been notified of his death. The Vermont Defender General’s Office and the Vermont State Police have been notified. In accordance with DOC Directive #353 - Terminal Illness and Inmate Death, the Health Services Director will conduct an administrative and clinical review of the event.

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