Timothy Wayne Johnson, who shot Chicago businessman Kevin McCann and Marine Corps junior officer Brett Harman last year, was the first defense witness Tuesday in his double-murder trial.
Johnson, 23, admitted he was a drug dealer at N.C. State University and, at one time, carried a gun to class. He spent four hours talking about his ongoing drug and alcohol use and the day of the shooting.
It was the first time relatives and friends of Harman and McCann heard from the man who fired two fatal shots Sept. 4 in a tailgate area near Carter-Finley Stadium shortly before the NCSU football season opener.
Johnson's testimony had two recurring themes:
* He never thought about shooting or intended to shoot anyone when he got his pistol from his truck.
* His brother Tony had been acting up all day and starting fights in the tailgate area before Harman tackled Tony Johnson.
As Harman, a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, knocked Tony Johnson to the ground, Timothy Johnson said he saw blood on his brother's leg and thought Harman had cut him. Timothy Johnson said he pulled the gun out and fired because "I was hoping to get him off my brother."
"I couldn't let them hurt my brother," he said.
Intent, premeditation and deliberation are key points jurors will consider in determining whether Johnson committed first-degree murder or a lesser offense. Defense attorneys say that he acted in defense of himself and his younger brother. Prosecutors say he intended to kill Harman and McCann.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Timothy Johnson will be sentenced to death or life in prison. The state concluded its case Tuesday morning.
On her cross-examination of Johnson, prosecutor Susan Spurlin pointed out the contradictions in his testimony, logic and actions.
Johnson testified that he took a gun everywhere after his apartment was robbed of drugs and cash last year -- even to the bathroom. So Spurlin questioned why Johnson wasn't toting his pistol at the tailgate site, where, he admitted, he had been selling drugs.
The gun was stored in a compartment of his truck, he said.
Later, Spurlin presented an August 2001 letter Johnson wrote to gain readmission to NCSU that said, "I'm proud to say that I have been clean for a long time, and it feels great." She then asked him whether the statement was true.
"It was a lie," Johnson said.
Spurlin also wanted to know why Timothy Johnson didn't just restrain his younger brother.
"Looking back now, I wish I'd have turned around and knocked him out," Johnson said.
As Timothy Johnson described his brother as the drunken instigator that day, Raleigh lawyer Johnny Gaskins listened in the gallery. Gaskins and Rosemary Godwin have been appointed to defend Tony Johnson, 21, in his double murder trial set for October.
Defense attorney Joseph B. Cheshire V opened his questioning by introducing Johnson's parents, older brother and their pastor to jurors and asking his client to talk about his family and upbringing.
Johnson discussed the legal troubles of his older brother, Mitch, who spent time in jail, stole from their parents, forged checks, threw parties where drugs were used and was on house arrest at the family home. He also said Mitch, now 33, gave him his first drink -- Jack Daniels -- when he was 14.
Timothy Johnson said by the time of the shootings that day, he had consumed a 12-pack of Michelob Light, eight or nine shots of Captain Morgan rum and a few more beers and had smoked a "stronger kind of marijuana."
To see and hear their son, brother, nephew, church member and family friend on the stand brought hung heads and tears from folks seated in the gallery behind defense attorneys.
The same testimony brought shaking heads, raised eyebrows, and looks of disbelief from those who lost their sons, brothers and friends in the shootings.
During cross-examination, Spurlin asked Johnson to act out the moments before the victims were shot. Trial judge Osmond Smith turned down her request to let Johnson use the gun with which he shot Harman and McCann in the demonstration.
Johnson and prosecutor Jeff Cruden acted out the tussle between Johnson and McCann, who was the second victim, first having Johnson act as McCann, then as himself.
"I was scared that he was going to take my gun or make me shoot myself with it," Johnson said about McCann's grabbing his left arm. Johnson used his right hand to fire his weapon.
The defense continues presenting its case when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. today.
Staff writer Cindy George can be reached at 829-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.