Leroy Johnson Jr.

Johnson Found Guilty in Brother's December Murder

He could face 67-123 years in prison when he's sentenced June 1

April 29, 2010

Crime-scene technicians collected 25 shell casings in Leroy Johnson Jr.'s apartment, scattered around the 27-year-old man's bullet-riddled body Dec. 16.

A pathologist removed several bullet chips from Johnson's brain and body, and technicians found several more scattered in walls and floors in his apartment and a neighboring one.

After deliberating nine hours, an Allen Superior Court jury found Johnson's brother, Brandon L. Johnson, 22, guilty of murder, attempted murder and battery. He could face 67-123 years in prison when he's sentenced June 1.

As Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Stineburg explained it to the jury, the shooter “absolutely unloaded” a hail of gunfire inside the small, one-bedroom apartment at 4054 Wayne Trace for, according to two days of witness testimony, seemingly no good reason. Four bullets went into Leroy Johnson in the melee, and another six went into his friend, Clifton Davis, critically injuring him as he hid behind a bathroom door.

That door stood propped in the center of the courtroom Wednesday, where Brandon Johnson – Davis' best friend – was being tried. With blood smeared on it and 20 bullet holes in it, the off-white door served as critical evidence of the crime that took place in the apartment.

“We do know what this is,” said Stineburg in his closing arguments to the jury, mocking the phrase witnesses said Brandon Johnson shouted before firing round after round.

“This is murder. The defendant murdered his own brother. The defendant tried to kill Clifton Davis.

“We do know what this is, and it's the defendant's guilt.”

No motive is known for what triggered Brandon Johnson's shooting spree that mid-December day. No one could offer insight into why he would put a “mini assault rifle” to his brother's head and send a bullet ripping through Leroy Johnson's brain, or why he would send another through the other side of the man's head and another through his groin that ruptured the femoral artery – all three fatal shots.

No witness could understand why Brandon Johnson would then pump 20 more shots through the bathroom door that Davis had scrambled to hide behind, six bullets entering him and at least five more, after pummeling through the door, spiraling through the bathroom wall and into a neighboring apartment.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors and Brandon Johnson's defense attorney, John Bohdan, mocked the phrase that witnesses attributed to the younger Johnson before they say he fired: “You know what this is,” although both acknowledged they really didn't at all. In fact, none of the six people inside the apartment who testified knew what it was.

Bohdan argued that no one in the apartment that day, not even Davis, saw Brandon Johnson pull the trigger, despite every person testifying he saw Brandon Johnson with the 18-inch assault rifle used in the crime. Police never found the rifle.

Bohdan also pleaded to the jury that none of Brandon Johnson's DNA or fingerprints were found in the apartment, though every visitor testified to him being there. Bohdan even hinted that two other people supposedly in the apartment that day curiously were not called as witnesses by the prosecution.

“On this evidence we still don't know what this is,” Bohdan said during his closing.

Deputy Prosecutor Steve Godfrey, in his own closing, said just the opposite, daring the jury to come up with any reason any witness could have to lie, citing how all those who testified had remained in the courtroom because they were emotionally invested in the case's outcome.

“Who talked to police after this happened? Who was hiding?” Godfrey said, referring to multiple witness accounts of Brandon Johnson being found by Fort Wayne Police SWAT holed up in an apartment attic two days later. “Does that sound like an innocent person?”

No, a jury ultimately decided.


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