Local News

Second Day Of N.C. State Tailgating Murder Trial Begins With Graphic Testimony

Posted August 2, 2005 4:25 a.m. EDT

— Family members heard graphic details Tuesday about the deadly shootings of two men at an N.C. State tailgating party last year.

The prosecution continued hearing from its list of 54 potential witnesses to the shooting and investigators at the scene where they say Timothy Johnston shot and killed Brett Harman and Kevin McCann Sept. 4, 2004.

Only the second day of the trial, Harman and McCann's family and friends also watched a graphic crime scene video that showed McCann's body, covered by a yellow tarp, still on the ground.

Some chose to leave the courtroom while others, who tried to contain their emotions, stayed and watched.

Agent Garland Johnston, of the City-County Bureau of Investigation, described how the muzzle of a gun was placed against McCann's cheek.

"You could see an abrasion ring, which means when a barrel of a weapon is placed against you and the weapon is fired -- if the barrel is next to your skin, it makes an abrasion ring," Johnston said.

But the chain of evidence is not perfect. Agents could not lift any usable prints from the murder weapon or a broken bottle at the scene.

"Unlike on TV on CSI where they get prints off everything and they're always identified, in the real world, that's not the case," Andy Parker, a fingerprint expert with the CCBI testified.

Timothy Johnson appeared to listen intently to the case against him.

"He's very sorrowful for what's happened," said defense attorney Joe Cheshire. "(He's) sorry for what's happened to these family and their children, and he's sorry for what's happened to his mom and dad."

Although it is an unusual move in a first-degree murder trial, defense attorneys said Tuesday that they plan to put Johnson on the stand in his own defense.

"We intend to," Cheshire said. "I can't imagine a circumstance in which we wouldn't. I think the jury needs to hear what he has to say."

Defense attorney Brad Bannon said in opening statements Monday that Johnson, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, was trying to defend his brother, Tony Johnson, and that he was drunk and acted impulsively without criminal intent.

"Tim Johnson saw a group of men who looked like they were about to fight -- who far outweighed his brother, who far outnumbered his brother, who were led by a person who looked like he could do serious damage to a person," Bannon said.

Prosecutor Susan Spurlin said in her statement that the case is not about self-defense.

"It's not about the defense of others," she said. "It's not about the defendant acting with a diminished capacity."

Tony Johnson is also charged in connection with the shootings and is scheduled to go to trial in October.