Timothy Johnson: 'I Never Wanted To Kill Two People'
Posted August 9, 2005 6:49 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A defendant on trial for the shooting deaths of two men at a N.C. State tailgating party last fall admitted Tuesday that he fired shots that day, but that he did so because he was afraid for his brother.
In a highly unusual turn, the defense called Timothy Johnson as its first witness to testify. Johnson faces first-degree murder charges for shooting Kevin McCann and Brett Harman during a Labor Day weekend altercation last fall. The defense contends that Johnson shot the two men, but say it was in self-defense.
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During the four hours that he was on the witness stand, Johnson said that his brother, Tony Johnson, had been cut by a bottle during a fight and that he was afraid for him when he fired a gun. He said that it was not his intent to shoot anyone and that the episode happened very quickly.
"I saw my brother getting hurt," Johnson said. "I didn't know what else to do. And I wish I could change it now. I mean, I wish I could take all the pain away and give them their lives back. I never wanted to kill two people."
Johnson also said that his brother instigated the entire fight with others who were attending the tailgating party. During his testimony, he became teary eyed when he talked about his background and his family.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Jeff Cruden acted out the shooting with Johnson. Prosecutors also concentrated on Johnson's criminal past, including drug dealing and robbery. They also zeroed in on the fact that he fled the scene of the shootings, changed his appearance and got rid of his murder weapon.
Johnson said that because he was drunk, high and suffers from a learning disability, he acted impulsively.
"I didn't really think about it," he said. "I just did it."
Family members of the victims struggled to keep their composure as they listened to Johnson's testimony.
"His thing is that he was drunk and high," said Brett Harman's brother, Rob Harman. "Well, that's not an excuse. (He) chose to get drunk. (He) chose to get high that day. That doesn't excuse (him) for murdering two people. I was amazed."
Both Timothy Johnson and Tony Johnson were sentenced earlier this year in a home invasion last August. On Monday, a witness who has pleaded guilty to participating in that home invasion testified that Timothy Johnson called him on his cell phone about an hour after the shootings and told him what happened.
"He called and said, 'I'm sorry, but I shot two people. One of them's dead. No, I think both of them are dead,''' said Christopher Edge, a friend of Timothy Johnson.
Edge, 22, who testified for about three hours, said he went inside the stadium after hearing two shots but never saw anyone fire a gun.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday morning. The defense is expected to continue its case with more witnesses Wednesday.