Attorneys In Timothy Johnson Murder Trial Make Last Appeals To Jury
Posted August 15, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. — Lawyers in the trial of a man accused of killing two people outside a N.C. State football game in September made their closing arguments to the jury Monday.
The prosecution presented its closing arguments Monday morning in the trial of Timothy Johnson, who is accused of killing Kevin McCann and 2nd Lt. Brett Harman at a tailgating party Labor Day weekend in 2004. Shortly before noon, the defense began its closing arguments and continued late into the afternoon.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden told the jury that Harman and McCann did nothing to cause their own deaths.
"The only thing necessary for evil to succeed or triumph is for good men to do nothing," Cruden said. "(Harman and McCann) were good men, and they weren't going to do nothing."
Instead, he argued that Johnson, with malice, premeditation and deliberation, shot and killed the two men -- all things the state must prove for the jury to find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder.
"When he knew that his brother was down on the ground and he decided to pull that gun, he deliberated," Cruden told the jury. "If you can think about it, you deliberated."
Cruden also rebutted the defense's theory that Johnson had a diminished capacity from drinking, which kept him from being able to form the specific intent to kill.
"This is a guy so wasted and so tore up that he fired two shots and killed two people," he said. "That's a pretty good kill ratio. He's batting a thousand."
In its closing argument, the defense told the jury that the prosecution had presented a simplistic view of the shooting deaths.
"This case, ladies and gentlemen, is not a murder case, " said Johnson's attorney, Joe Cheshire.
Defense attorneys said that instead of murder, it is a case of voluntary manslaughter. The victims, they said, were drinking and eager to fight.
"Those men -- as fine as my boys, maybe better -- contributed to what happened out there that day," Cheshire said. "They are not blameless."
In many ways, the trial has come down to pitting the lives of the victims against that of the defendant. Johnson has been portrayed as a convicted felon, an admitted drug dealer and alcoholic. Harman was a Marine who was on his way to Iraq. McCann, his lifelong friend, was a Chicago businessman.
"I also ask you not to convict him because of sympathy and emotion," Cheshire said. "That is not what your job is to do. The judge will tell you that's not your job."
But it is hard to take emotion out of the equation. Three families have lost their sons -- two to death, one to jail. There will be no winners.
"As long as they are never out again to inflict pain on other people, we will be content," said Rob Harman, Brett Harman's brother, of Johnson and his younger brother, Tony Johnson, who is also charged with murder and is scheduled to go to trial in October.
During his trial, Timothy Johnson took the stand in his own defense and said he never meant to kill anyone.
Testimony wrapped up Thursday when mental-health experts testified about Johnson's state of mind when he fired the shots.
The jury will be allowed to consider first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty for each killing. If convicted of first-degree murder, the jury would then have to decide whether to sentence Johnson to life in prison or death.