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Netflix's New Documentary The Devil on Trial Blends True Crime and the Paranormal

An in-depth look at the sensational murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson and his demonic possession defense.

the devil on trial
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  • Photo Credit: Dorothy Street Pictures

Even if you don't believe in the supernatural, the evil that lives within the hearts of some humans is terrifying enough. But what happens when someone places the blame for a horrific act on the Devil? This new Netflix true crime documentary follows the only recorded example of demonic possession as a defense in an American murder trial.

If you saw the third installation of The Conjuring film series, based on the cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren, then you might already be familiar with the chilling case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson. Better known as the “Devil Made Me Do It” case, 19-year-old Johnson killed his landlord, Alan Bono, on the evening of February 16th, 1981.

Just a few months before Johnson stabbed Bono to death, 11-year-old David Glatzel—the younger brother of Johnson's girlfriend, Debbie—was allegedly possessed by a demon. His odd behavior saw his family bringing in the help of not only the Warrens, but of a Catholic priest. As they allegedly exorcised the demon from young David, it then took up residency in Johnson's body.

But could this simply have been a convenient excuse to evade a murder charge? As Johnson went to trial with this bizarre defense, the story caused a frenzy in the media. Though this captivating story has been fictionalized on screen several times, this documentary aims to deliver the truth. Alongside reenactments and home videos, the people directly involved with the eerie events tell their story for the first time.

The Devil on Trial arrives on Netflix on October 17th.