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Man Pleads Guilty in Retired Teacher's Death

Posted June 12, 2007

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— The final suspect in the April 2005 murder of a retired Wake County teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in the crime and asked for forgiveness from the woman's family.

Marvin Johnson, 20, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in shooting death of Shirley Newkirk outside her southeast Raleigh home on April 24, 2005.

Newkirk was getting ready for an early morning walk with a friend when she was shot in her driveway in an apparent robbery attempt, authorities said. She managed to get back inside her home, where her husband found her.

Johnson's cousin, Ezavia Allen, and a friend, Cameron Morris, were previously convicted of first-degree murder in the case and are serving life terms in prison.

Police said the trio committed a string of armed robberies and attempted robberies in the days leading up to Newkirk's death, and investigators believe she was another target in their spree.

Allen, the triggerman, said he accidentally shot Newkirk when she blew the car horn and startled him.

Johnson testified against both Allen and Morris and was allowed to plead to second-degree murder. Defense attorney Joe Zeszotarski also said Johnson was the follower in the group.

"He is the least culpable of the three men involved in this case.," Zeszotarski said.

He told Superior Court Judge Ron Stephens that Johnson was led astray after his mother became chronically ill.

"Everyone I talked to, your honor, said Marvin went into a downward spiral when that occurred," he said.

Stephens sentenced Johnson to a minimum of 21 years and a maximum of 26 years in prison.

Johnson apologized in court to Newkirk's family, saying he prayed for them, had asked God for forgiveness and hoped that they might eventually forgive him.

His father, also named Marvin Johnson, said his son was sincere in the apology.

"He's very sorry for what happened. He's very remorseful for what happened. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," the elder Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Anita Pearson, the attorney for the Newkirks, said the family just wants to move forward.

"The family is now just relieved that the process is over, and they're ready to get on with their lives," Pearson said.


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  • Lightfoot3 Jun 14, 2007


    I am without sin! Now where's me a rock?!

  • daplaw123 Jun 14, 2007

    We say we love God and have forgiveness in our hearts, but with these comments it makes me wonder. The Bible says that we have to love every man no matter what. The Bible says what the devil may have meant for our bad, God can turn it around for our good. We will continue to be there for Marvin and his family as he go and do his time in prison. We will continue to minister to him and encourage him to stay focus so that one day he can return back to his family and become an advocate for victims of such crimes. That he will go out into the schools and community and talk with the youth and tell his story of how when he didn't think there was any more mercy left he found mercy and grace. Yes he got a lot of time and God will see him through. Marvin is a good person. He has all the pieces of the puzzle on the table he just needs some help in putting all the pieces together to get the whole picture. If you can't forgive him then pray that God will put that forgiveness in your heart. Amen.

  • daplaw123 Jun 14, 2007

    He is sorry and have asked for forgiveness. You don't know all the facts because without Marvin the state would not have had a strong case against the one that did pull the trigger. How many of you have tried to reach out to him and help him? So that he can see his wrong and know that there is a God that still loves. Yes this was wrong and we are all sad. I knew Shirley Newkirk I went to church with her and set with her in Bible Study she was a wonderful person and I believe that if she knew that her dying has caused this young man to find God then it would be well with her soul. Yes she lost her life, for the cause of someone finding Christ. Yes this was a ugly thing and sad but it's nothing that we can do about it to bring her back, so instead of speaking death upon this young man we should be speaking life to him. When are we going to wake up and know that God is not pleased with these hateful words that has been expressed here. We have to pray for both families.

  • daplaw123 Jun 14, 2007

    He that is without sin let him cast the first stone. Excuse me now I have set here and read everyone of your comments and everyone of you will need if not already one day will have to ask God for forgiveness. Now I am the Minister who reached out to these young men and Marvin was the only one that responded back just when he was thinking about taking his own life when he learned that Mrs. Newkirk was dead that's how sorry he was. You know nothing about this young man nor what he has been through tht lead him to this point in his life. The thing is we can honor Mrs. Newkirks life by not letting her dying be in vain. And that's by forgiving these young men and ministering to them and speaking life to them so they can know that inspite of all God still loves them and forgives them. Just like when Christ came unto His own and His own rejected Him but yet He still forgiven them and all of us for that fact. And you all have the nerve to say such things about this young man that is sorry.

  • lb1 Jun 13, 2007

    I have met Marvin and I found him to be a very polite young man. I also know he was troubled by the illness of his mother and he was seeking for something or someone to help him. He should be punished for his actions, however he also has a God that will forgive him. (The Rev. must not know about the God of Grace.) I pray that Marvin will be protected while he serves his time and his life will be changed for the better. I also hope he knows that many are praying for him.

  • lollly52 Jun 13, 2007

    @213slayer Hi. I am old and I do not know the meaning of a lot of terms. What does “thug” mean? When some say he is a thug and you say he is not – what attributes or characteristics does it mean that he does or does not have? Thank you for teaching me something.

  • suitedbaby Jun 13, 2007

    don't waste any tax payer's monies, let him meet the maker

  • wizard633 Jun 13, 2007

    213slayer - I have had illness in my family, & death, but it did not make me want to go out with my friends to rob & kill some-one. That is a LAME excuse. He just didn't figure on getting caught & was too sorry to go out to get a real job. I have sympathy for him or any-one else that choose's that life-style. 21-26 years is not long enough & not to mention the probable crimes he didn't get caught at!

  • TexasKate Jun 13, 2007

    If a word is not in the language, the value is not in the culture. The missing word is accountability. The family vocally continued their disdain of accountability at the trial. Is it a wonder he went out for the evening to rob?

  • bill0 Jun 13, 2007

    The sentence sounds about right. All three went out with the plan of robbing people, so it wasn't like he was innocently along for the ride. Remember though, he didn't set out to shot anyone. He also wasn't the one who pulled the trigger. He also cooperated and testified against the actual shooter. While he should and will go to prison for a long time, he seems to be at least a small step up from the ringleader of the bunch.