UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — More than 89,000 domestic violence complaints were filed across New York City in all of 2021 and, on New Year’s Day 2022, another one was made in Queens that would later prove significant.
The complaint was filed by Azsia Johnson, who was 20 years old and six months pregnant. Responding police said their body camera footage captured bruising on her face and scratches on her neck.
Johnson blamed her estranged boyfriend, Isaac Argro, for the injuries but he was never tracked down or charged with any crime.
“In January, this man should have been arrested!” Johnson’s mother, Lisa Desort, told PIX11 News’ Anthony DiLorenzo on Saturday. “She kept saying, ‘Mom, I wish they would arrest him already.'”
Late Friday, Argro, 22, was charged with murdering Johnson on East 95th Street the night of June 29. The young mom was pushing their 3-month-old baby girl in a stroller when she was ambushed from behind and shot in the head.
Johnson had tried to elude Argro’s wrath for months, even taking refuge in a domestic violence shelter, according to her mother. But she apparently felt bad that Argro had not met his baby and arranged to meet him near a park the night of her death.
Experts in the field of domestic violence would point to the January incident as a precursor of the murder.
Back in 2019, PIX11 News aired and published a two-part special report on the types of domestic violence events that can be “lethality indicators.”
The office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark in 2018 started a program called The Strangulation Initiative, which seeks to counsel domestic violence victims, especially those who have been choked. A neck injury can often be a “red flag” of worsening violence.
“A woman is seven times more likely to be the victim of a homicide if she is strangled in a relationship,” Assistant Bronx District Attorney Amy Litwin told PIX11 at the time.
Strangling “is a way a perpetrator can say to a victim ‘your life is in my hands,'” Litwin said.
Azsia Johnson’s mother said her daughter complained the baby girl’s father was stalking and harassing her.
On the night she was killed, Johnson texted her sister that Argro was wearing all black and a black ski mask, seconds before she was hit by gunfire. Police said Argro was seen ducking into a nearby building, where he took off his black ensemble and emerged wearing Adidas shorts.
On Friday night, he insisted “I’m innocent, innocent,” when reporters asked what he would say to the victim’s family.
Argro was remanded to jail after his arraignment while Johnson’s family made plans to care for her two children, a little boy she had from a different relationship and the baby girl she had with Argro.