Local News

Plea In Home Invasion Case Could Impact NCSU Tailgate Murders Trial

Posted January 13, 2005

— A suspect in a double fatal shooting at a tailgate party last year pleaded guilty Thursday to a previous case involving a home invasion.

Timothy Johnson appeared in court to answer charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree burglary. Prosecutors say Timothy and his brother, Tony Johnson, broke into a Raleigh home on Aug. 28 to look for items that may have been stolen from Timothy Johnson's home. Attorneys said they were also looking for $15,000.

They said the men brought three guns, a knife and a bat to the residence and tied up the four residents of the home with duct tape and put them in a bedroom.

Prosecutors said the men did not find what they were looking for, but they did take a telephone, keys, some handguns and a rifle. Timothy Johnson will be sentenced in the home invasion case in February. He is set to be tried on the murder charges in July.

Joe Cheshire, Timothy Johnson's attorney, said his client has his own motivation for pleading guilty.

"His position is if I did something wrong, I'm going to say I did. I'm not going to play games. I'm not going to run and hide from it," he said.

The home invasion occurred a few days before the Johnsons were charged with shooting and killing two men at a North Carolina State University football tailgating party.

"The two young men who unfortunately died that day created a fight," he said.

Cheshire said Timothy Johnson acted to protect his brother and himself.

"When you hear what happened and what he was confronted with, what he saw and what he knew, I think most people will think his activities were somewhat reasonable," he said.

It almost seems insignificant to charge someone with a home invasion when they are also charged with murder, but in this case, prosecutors said there is a very clear legal intent. Having a prior felony conviction on your record is an aggravating circumstance -- one which could get you the death penalty if you are convicted of murder.

Tony Johnson will be tried on the home invasion charge in April and the double murder charges in October. The state has announced that it will seek the death penalty against both brothers in the murder case.

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