BELLEVILLE (AP) — A man awaiting trial in the slayings of three people in a Belleville hair salon in 2015 has died of COVID-19, officials said.

Samuel Johnson

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. said that 55-year-old Samuel L. Johnson died of complications of pneumonia and COVID-19 at Memorial Hospital in Belleville late Friday night, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

Johnson has been in custody since 2016, when he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the March 2, 2005, stabbing deaths of hairdresser Michael Cooney and two of his customers, 79-year-old Doris Fischer and 82-year-old Dorothy Bone. The two women were sisters. Since he was charged, Johnson maintained his innocence.

At the time of the slayings, Terry Delaney, the police chief in the southwestern Illinois community at the time said that Cooney was the intended victim of a “rage-driven killing.”

Court records also indicate that Johnson was also charged with attempted harassment of witnesses and other charges stemming from a 2018 incident when he allegedly stabbed another jail inmate.