Mark Pillow was 24 years old then police say he stabbed his 65-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Pillow, to death and then set her house on fire on May 4 last year.
Johnson later accepted guilty pleas on charges of murder and arson.
District Attorney José Aliseda had accepted a plea bargain with defense attorney Vicki Martino in return for the pleas.
Pillow had already given Beeville Police Department investigators a signed confession.
The plea bargain agreement was for a maximum of 50 years in prison.
Martino argued that her client was not in his right mind at the time of the murder. He had told family members for years that he saw people in the bushes and heard voices.
Johnson set the sentences at 45 years on each of the charges of murder and arson and he allowed the defendant to serve the two sentences concurrently.
He will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of one-half of that sentence.
The judge told Martino and Pillow that he may appeal the case only with his permission and he gave Pillow 30 days to file an intention of appeal in writing.
Assistant District Attorney James Sales argued that, in spite of Pillow’s mental problems, he obviously knew right from wrong at the time of the murder and arson.
Sales said Pillow took the time to get out of his clothes, wash them and then get dressed again before setting the house on fire and leaving.
Sales also pointed out that Pillow hid the knife he had used to stab his grandmother once in the chest and twice in the stomach.
About a dozen family members were in the courtroom Friday and one of the victim’s granddaughters read a brief crime victim’s statement before court was adjourned.
Pillow sat silently throughout the hearing, either staring straight ahead or down at the table before him.
He showed no emotion during the session.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.