Local News

Tears Wednesday, But No Verdict In Johnson Trial

Posted August 17, 2005

— The jury deliberating the fate of a former North Carolina State University student charged with two counts of first-degree murder spent most of the morning in court Wednesday reviewing evidence presented in the court proceedings.

A little after 10 a.m. Wednesday, the jury went to Judge Osmond Smith with a list of requests to review eight separate exhibits from the trial. Smith agreed, but said they must do it in the courtroom. Meanwhile, the defendant, Timothy Johnson, attorneys and anguished family members of both the victims and Johnson looked on.

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  • Among the list of requests, the jury asked to hear a phone call that Johnson made from jail asking his crying roommate, Grant Sanders, to hide his gun and, with little emotion, explaining his actions on Sept. 4, when authorities say he shot and killed Camp Lejeune Marine 2nd Lt. Brett Harman and Chicago businessman Kevin McCann.

    "They're sure taking their time," said Johnson's defense attorney, Joe Cheshire. "It's not unusual for them to take this much time in many cases."

    The trial lasted for two weeks. Dozens of witnesses, including the defendant himself, testified.

    "They have a lot to decide," said prosecutor Jeff Cruden. "They're being thorough. They're trying to make the right decision."

    Jurors also listened to a 911 tape from a man at the tailgating party who witnessed the shooting and got Johnson's license plate number. They also read reports from two psychiatrists who testified for the defense and the state.

    The jury also asked to watch the crime scene video that showed McCann's body on the ground.

    Even though many family members of the victims had already seen the video, it prompted an outpouring of emotion from the courtroom audience.

    "The jury hearing the victims' families cry was a moment that was bothersome," Cheshire said. "But we trust them to do their job."

    The human drama is now on the other side of the courtroom as people who are connected to this tragedy wait for their individual ideas of justice. The jury must decide if Johnson is guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty.

    "As painful and hard as this obviously is for us, we're here to represent Kevin and Brett so people can see that they come from loving families and they have a lot of loving friends and they were wonderful people," said Harman's girlfriend of seven years, Zora Popovic.

    At one point in the day, Johnson blew a kiss to his mother -- a reminder that not just the victims' families are riding an emotional rollercoaster as they wait for the jury's decision.

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