Appeals Court Upholds N.C. State Tailgate Shooting Conviction
Posted March 6, 2007 3:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2007 4:03 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected an appeal from a former North Carolina State University student convicted nearly two years ago in a double-fatal tailgate shooting.
The three-judge panel found that Timothy Johnson received a trial free from error despite his attorneys' challenge that prosecutors used the felony murder rule to convict their client in one of the two deaths.
Authorities said Johnson and his younger brother, Tony, were at an N.C. State tailgate party on Labor Day 2004, became involved in a dispute with Camp Lejeune Marine Lt. Brett Harman and Chicago businessman Kevin McCann, both 23.
During Johnson's trial, witnesses testified that Tony Johnson challenged a group of men to a fight after they got mad at him for driving erratically in a crowded parking lot. Timothy Johnson testified that he fired shots in self-defense and out of fear for his brother.
Johnson’s attorneys also argued that the shooting deaths were two separate events because McCann tried to intervene and take the gun from Timothy Johnson, but the court also denied that argument.
Timothy Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with McCann's death and second-degree murder in connection with Harman's death. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A month later, Tony Johnson was sentenced to 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to inflict serious injury and accessory after the fact. Prosecutors said he gave his brother his car to get away from the scene after the shootings.