Woman gets 4 years for stabbing CTA busker whose music gave her a headache

A woman who allegedly told cops she stabbed a guitarist on the Jackson Red Line platform last year because his music gave her a headache has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Barbara Johnson, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in a deal that called on prosecutors to drop three additional aggravated battery counts, court records show. Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Johnson and gave her credit for the 436 days she’s been jailed since the February 4, 2020, attack.

Barbara Johnson (inset) and “Machete” Mike Malinowski. | CPD; GoFundMe

Micheal “Machete Mike” Malinowski, a frequent performer on the downtown busker scene, was shredding a tune at the CTA station when Johnson pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the arm, prosecutors said. Malinowski’s Gibson electric guitar was left in pieces on the nearby tracks. His amp was totaled, according to a GoFundMe campaign pitch that raised $7,190 to help him get back on his feet.

Johnson walked away, but the CTA station was filled with witnesses on that pre-COVID afternoon. Cops quickly caught up with her. She would later tell investigators that Malinowski’s music was giving her a headache. YouTube user the1stMikeC posted a video of Malinowski ripping out some Pink Floyd at the station in 2018:

“Lmmfao the irony of being called Machete and getting stabbed,” Malinowski later joked on Facebook. “I’m just pissed at this point cuz I can’t use my fretting hand for a long time…I’ve got a lot to think about.”

Malinowski also posted a graphic photo that shows a gaping 2-inch wound on the outside of his left arm. Little did anyone know that COVID would arrive within weeks to put ice on daily life, including busking, for nearly a year.

State authorities have not announced Johnson’s anticipated parole date. However, with the standard 50% sentence reduction for good behavior and time served credit, she will likely be released early next year.

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