|Who, age||What||Where||When||Last Known Address|
Andrew Douglas Golden, 11 (1)
aka Drew Douglas Grady
|killing a duck, shooting dogs, killing a neighbors cat||
|March 24, 1998||Evening Shade, AR|
|Mitchell Scott Johnson, 13 (2)||shooting squirrels||
|March 24, 1998||incarcerated in a Arkansas Department of Correction Jail|
|Type of Crime||Other Crimes||#/Type of animal(s) involved||Case Status||Next Court Date /Courthouse|
killed 4 students, 1 teacher & wounded 10 others
(1)lied on an application to carry a gun, application denied
(2)molested a 3-year-old girl at age 12; drug & gun charges
|duck, dogs, cat, squirrels||
Not charged for animal cruelty
Convicted of murder
Mitchell Scott Johnson, age 13 and Andrew Douglas Golden, age 11, shot and killed 4 students and 1 teacher during a fire drill at their school, Westside Middle School, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. A schoolmate reported that Golden said he shoots dogs all the time with a .22.
Dressed in camouflage and waiting in ambush on a hill under the cover of brush, the 2 boys had set off a fire alarm to flush their victims from the school building. In less than four minutes, 10 children lay on the ground wounded along with the 4 girls and a teacher who were shot dead. The boys were caught with an arsenal of 9 guns between them.
Doug Golden, Andrews grandfather, told authorities that his grandson had broken into his home immediately before the shooting and stole 3 rifles and 4 handguns - among the weapons confiscated by police, including a deadly accurate deer rifle. He also stated that Andrew had killed his first duck early in the year. Golden also bragged to schoolmates that he had killed his neighbors cat.
Johnson (born August 11, 1984 in Grand Meadow, Minnesota to Gretchen Woodward & Scott Johnson) was a choirboy attending church up until 2 weeks before the shootings. He moved to Arkansas from Minnesota 2 years before when his parents divorced. At the time of the divorce, he became introspective and talked frequently about missing his father. Also 2 weeks before the shootings, he would wear red clothes every day, because he stated he was in "The Blood Gang".
Johnson is believed to have masterminded the attack, angry that his girlfriend, Candace Porter, had left him.
Golden (born May 25, 1986 in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Jacqueline and Dennis Golden) learned to shoot almost as soon as he could walk. His father is a member of a local gun club and trained him to hunt and shoot targets. Both his parents are postal workers, who worked long hours, leaving the boy often at home by himself.
In photos taken by investigators at the time of the shooting, Doug Golden's kitchen was anyone's definition of a home arsenal. On a custom built, 12-foot rack that ran the length of one wall, Golden's grandfather had rifles lined up cheek to cheek, all of them oiled and cleaned and polished. To his credit, Doug Golden had taken steps to secure his guns, running a length of aircraft cable through their trigger guards, with 1 end secured to the wall and the other with a heavy padlock. Andrew, however, knew where to find the key.
The state Department of Human Services said that Golden and Johnson will be held until age 21. The state is acquiring a juvenile jail in Dermott and will convert it to a facility to hold offenders aged 18 to 21. When Golden and Johnson were found delinquent, Arkansas had no such facility and faced the prospect of releasing the boys when they reached age 18. "There's no doubt we will have the Jonesboro boys until they're 21," DHS spokesman Joe Quinn said.
The Department of Human Services, which holds juvenile delinquents, assigned the boys to the Alexander Youth Services Center. They can only remain in the center until they are 18. State law says youthful offenders can be held until they are 21, but the state did not have a facility to house 18 to 21 year olds until the acquisition of the Dermott lockup. "What will keep the Jonesboro boys with us until they are 21 is that we will now open such a facility," Quinn said. After the shootings, Govenor Mike Huckabee had said the state would find or build an appropriate facility by the time the oldest Jonesboro shooter -- Johnson -- reached age 18. "This is one more promise kept that will either hold them there (in Dermott) or in a better facility," Huckabee said. The 5 counties served by the Dermott lockup voted to turn the facility over to the state. The 10th Judicial District that oversees the jail is having trouble financing the facility. The district should shed control of the jail next year.
Quinn said work already is underway to renovate the facility. The plan is to expand the facility into a 75-bed center for violent youths and a separate 10-bed wing for youthful offenders from the 10th Judicial District. Quinn said that in the past there had not been a high demand for a center for 18 to 21 year olds because the bulk of the juvenile jail population was between 14 and 17.
Golden should have been allowed the opportunity to prove incompetence before he went to trial, according to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The opinion reversed part of a Craighead County juvenile court ruling in the case of Golden.
The boys were adjudicated delinquent at a juvenile court hearing and assigned to a juvenile detention center. State law at the time did not provide for juvenile incarceration past age 21.
Johnson pleaded guilty to the shootings. Golden's lawyer did not deny the boy participated but appealed Circuit-Chancery Judge Ralph Wilsons refusal to grant a competency hearing or allow an insanity plea. We hold that a juvenile does have a due process right to have his competency determined prior to adjudication, the Supreme Court said. However, the Supreme Court affirmed Wilsons ruling that neither due process nor equal protection affords a juvenile the right to an insanity defense. Val Price, Golden's attorney, said he was disappointed that the court would not allow him to use the insanity defense, but pleased that the court reversed Wilson on the matter of competence. I anticipate there will be further proceedings in this matter, but I will reserve further comment until I have read the full opinion, Price said.
Lavenski Smith said in a dissenting opinion that there are substantial distinctions
between juvenile court proceedings and adult criminal proceedings. He said
giving a juvenile the right to a competency hearing appears equitable, but
he believes it is unwise.
It reflects the continued erosion of all distinction between juvenile court and adult criminal courts, he wrote. The erosion could ultimately lead to the irrelevance of juvenile codes in general.
Andrew Douglas GOLDEN v. STATE of Arkansas. 99-572. No.
Below is a condensed version of the transcript:
Golden's lawyer went before the Supreme Court regarding the right to have competency tests factored into his murder conviction as a juvenile before adjudicating the case. At the time of his conviction juveniles were not allowed to have competency testing included in their juvenile cases.
the Supreme Court Decision: We hold and, as such, reverse the trial
court on this point. that neither due process nor equal protection affords
a juvenile the right to an insanity defense and, therefore, affirm the trial
court on these issues.
On March 25, 1998, a petition was filed, charging Golden and Mitchell with 5 counts of capital murder and 10 counts of 1st-degree battery. At the probable cause hearing held on March 25, 1998, Golden's attorney informed the court that he intended to raise the affirmative defense of insanity and would also be raising issues concerning Golden's competency A separate hearing on these issues was later to proceed to trial.
At the hearing on these issues, Golden's attorney argued that if the court denied Golden the right to argue lack of competency and insanity, it would violate Golden's constitutional rights. The trial court rejected these processes and equal protection. Arguments, finding that based upon the nature of juvenile proceedings, Golden was not entitled to raise the issue of whether he was competent. The court reasoned to stand trial or to assert the insanity defense. Following the issuance of the trial court's order, Golden's attorney informed the court that he wished to proceed to the adjudication hearing in order to preserve Golden's right to argue the competency and insanity issues on appeal. An adjudication hearing was subsequently held in which the trial court adjudicated Golden guilty and sentenced him to an indeterminate period of time in the Division of Youth Services Training School. The court also provided that if Golden was released before the age of 21, he would remain in a juvenile detention center for up to 90 days.
For his points
on appeal, the appellant asserts the following:that the trial court violated
his due-process rights by refusing to determine his competency, or fitness
A. that the trial court violated his due-process rights by refusing to allow him to present an insanity defense;
B. that the trial court violated his equal-protection rights by refusing to determine whether he was competent; and
C. that the trial court violated his equal-protection rights by refusing to allow him to present an insanity defense.
D. as we agree with stated above, we reverse in part and affirm in part. appellant only as to his first point on appeal and hold that a juvenile does have a due process right to have his competency determined prior to adjudication; as such, we reverse the trial court on this point. Having reversed the case on due process grounds regarding competency, we decline to address appellant's equal-protection argument. We affirm the trial court as to the appellant's issue of competency, other points on appeal regarding the insanity defense.
The appellant asserts that the trial court violated his due-process rights by refusing to determine his competency, or fitness to proceed and that the trial court violated his due-process rights by refusing to allow him to do this. We agree in regard to competency and to present an insanity defense. disagree in regard to the insanity defense.
The law is clear that defendants in criminal cases have a fundamental right not to stand trial while incompetent. This right protects criminal defendants' fundamental interests in their own liberty by ensuring that they are able to participate in their defense. In an effort to avoid conviction and incarceration. juvenile proceedings, while the Arkansas Juvenile Code seems to presume that a defendant being tried in juvenile court is incompetent to some degree, particularly one who is under the age of 14, there was no statutory provision for juveniles at the time of appellant's hearing affording juveniles the same fundamental liberty interests as adults where the issue of competency is concerned.
Regarding the insanity defense, this Court held that insanity is not a defense in juvenile proceedings because there is no statutory authority or case law for the defense, therefore, if one is not provided for by statute, then a defendant may not assert the defense. There was no statutory provision in effect in Arkansas at the time of appellant's hearing and we hold that appellant's due process rights were not violated. Therefore, we affirm the trial court on this point. insanity defense.
Appellant asserts that the trial court violated his equal-protection rights by refusing to determine whether he was competent to proceed. We decline to address an insanity defense; competency argument; further, we disagree with appellant that his equal-protection rights were violated in regard to the insanity defense.
to Stand Trial
Because this case is being reversed on due-process competency grounds, it is unnecessary in this case to address the competency issue with regard to equal protection.
As discussed above, this Court has already decided the issue of whether juveniles may assert the defense of insanity. The appellant contends that no rational basis exists for affording the insanity defense to adult criminal defendants in circuit court while not providing said defense to juvenile defendants; he contends that this undoubtedly amounts to a violation of equal protection. We disagree. Protection. proceedings and the difference in purpose of a juvenile proceeding-that being rehabilitative rather than punitive-coupled with the fact that juveniles are neither provided a trial by jury nor various other rights afforded to adult criminal defendants in circuit court, a rational basis clearly exists for affording adult criminal defendants in circuit court the right (by statute, not constitutionally), to assert the defense of insanity while not affording the same right to juveniles.
Further, the juvenile code provides a number of alternatives for the judge to consider and recommend in regard to disposition, including treatment, commitment, transfer of legal custody, and other alternatives regarding placement in a community-based program as opposed to youth services. Clearly, a rational basis exists for affording juvenile defendants less procedural rights than those charged in criminal circuit court, primarily because defendants in circuit court could potentially face life-imprisonment, or even a death sentence, unlike those charged in juvenile court. these reasons, we affirm the trial court on this point, as well.
remanded in part; affirmed in part.
Juveniles, unlike adults, are always in some form of custody.” “Children by definition are not assumed to have the capacity to take care of themselves, and are subject to the control of their parents, and if parental control falters, the State must play its role as parents patraie.”
The distinctions existing between juveniles and adults are recognized, “The General legislature in Ark. Code Ann. § Assembly recognizes that children are defenseless and that there is no greater moral obligation upon the General Assembly than to provide for the protection of our children and that our child welfare system needs to be strengthened by establishing a clear policy that the best interests of the children must be paramount. This is precedence at every stage of juvenile court proceedings·”
As referenced by the majority, “There is no doubt that the Due Process Clause is applicable in juvenile proceedings.” The Supreme Court went on to note the issue in the application of the Due Process Clause “is to ascertain the precise impact of the due process. The Supreme Court then went on to note it had decided in the past that the Due Process Clause required application of certain constitutional rights enjoyed by adults and did apply to minors. The court listed the rights, including notice of charges, right to counsel, privilege against self-incrimination, right of confrontation and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Supreme Court then notes that the Constitution does not mandate elimination of all differences in the treatment of juveniles. That the hearing must conform with all of the requirements of a criminal trial or even that of the usual administrative hearing; but we do hold that the hearing must measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment.”
1. Golden's attorney agreed to stipulate to the facts of the case; however, he did not plead guilty. He chose to proceed to trial rather than appeal to the intent. interlocutory from the court's order regarding the competency and insanity issues.
2. Although it may not be applied retroactively, it should be noted that when the General Assembly amended the juvenile code in 1999, it added an entire section on competency. The new language provides for a determination of capacity to stand trial for juveniles charged with certain crimes (further, it properly provides for an “age murder being one of them). appropriate” capacity standard to apply to juveniles, which is different than that of adults.
3. It should be noted that while the applicable juvenile code does not speak in terms of insanity as a defense, the 1999 amendment has included an evaluation of the juvenile's mental state and capacity with regard to mental disease or defect as part of the process of evaluating a juvenile under the age of 13 who is charged with capital murder or murder in the first degree.
ARNOLD, Chief Justice.
SMITH, J., dissents.
- See the full ruling at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ar-supreme-court/1012201.html#sthash.wVpU5uTs.dpuf
Golden's attorney, Val Price, a public defender, plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (a higher court) to decide whether the juvenile can argue insanity as a defense.
When Price appealed to the Arkansas Supreme (State) Court its ruling was that Golden, can't use an insanity defense. He later stipulated to the facts of the case but did not enter a pleading as to Golden's intent.
Although it denied the insanity defense argument, the state Supreme Court ruled that Golden should have been allowed a competency hearing. His case has been sent back to juvenile court in Craighead County for that purpose.
At Price's request, the court also stayed its mandate of the decision on the insanity defense, clearing the way for him to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Price said he has 90 days to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. He wants the court to decide if a state can allow adults to argue insanity as defense, but not let juveniles have the same right.
He admits the petition is a long shot. Of the more than 8,000 writs of certiorari submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, just 73 were allowed to be argued.
"I'm asking that they change the law on the insanity defense, making it a constitutional right of a juvenile defendant," Price said. "If the state law allows the insanity defense for an adult, then it's an equal protection or due process violation if they do not allow that also for juveniles charged in juvenile court."
The state Supreme Court said that state law does not allow juvenile court defendants to use an insanity defense.
The Supreme Court also substituted a new opinion for the one issued in June, but the new opinion did not change the essence, or meaning of the ruling.
The substitute dropped 2 sentences from Chief Justice W.H. "Dub" Arnold's original opinion that related to the disposition of adults using insanity as a defense.
Golden and Mitchell remain in the custody of the Alexander Youth Services Center near Benton.
If Golden is declared incompetent to defend himself in court, he would be sent to the State Hospital for rehabilitation, Price said. After 90 days of treatment, a 2nd competency hearing would be held. If he is deemed incompetent, Golden could be sent back to State Hospital until he is competent.
The big question is whether, if Golden is still deemed incompetent when he turns 21, he would stay in the hospital if he is competent or be released from state custody, Price said.
Under laws in effect when Golden's case was adjudicated, the state had no authority to keep those sentenced to juvenile detention facilities after their 21st birthday.
When Johnson was 7, his parents divorced and he and his brother moved with their mother to Jonesboro, Arkansas. His mother soon remarried to Terry Woodward, an inmate at the prison where she was a guard. Johnson had a good relationship with his stepfather and brother, and adults who remember him described him as being quiet and respectful. He was a former member of the Central Baptist Church youth choir, later joining the youth group at the Revival Tabernacle Church in Jonesboro.
Johnson was a desperate child, seeking more attention than he was given and didn't get disciplined at home. When he visited his father in Minnesota, 1 year before the shootings, he was real hostile. Mitchell, at age 12, was caught molesting a 3-year-old girl in Minnesota and was charged for the incident in juvenile court. When he returned to Arkansas, his mother began taking him to see a psychologist, who concluded that it was probably an isolated incident. Mitchell started calling sex-talk lines and racked up hundred of dollars on the phone bill and his father threatened to move him back to Minnesota. It was a spiral downwards after that. Antisocial Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.
The Texaco truck stop was a popular hang-out for youths in Jonesboro and adolescents there remember Johnson claiming to belong to street gangs. He also spoke of "having a lot of killing to do" and his classmates also commented that he had a fascination with firearms. He had particularly threatened to kill 6th-grader Candace Porter, his former girlfriend who had ended their relationship prior to the shootings.
By the time of the shooting, Johnson was self-mutilating, cutting his own arms with a knife. He wrote in a diary that after school he liked to take his shotgun, head into the woods, and shoot squirrels while pretending they were the teachers who gave him in-school suspension.
Johnson claims that he was a member of a Bloods-affiliated gang called the “Treetop Piru” The idea that a white, 13-year-old kid living on the outskirts of Jonesboro was accepted by and in frequent contact by phone with hardcore gangsters from Little Rock, Memphis and Minneapolis seems more like a fantasy than anything else — the dark dream of a socially awkward boy who wanted respect more than anything else in the whole wide world.
During the trial, Johnson hung his head and read a letter of apology he had written to victims' families. He said he wasn't targeting anyone. "We were not going to shoot at anyone in particular," he said. "I really thought we would scare them. I am sorry. I hope anyone who listens to these words knows how truly sorry I am."
While in detention awaiting trial, Johnson wrote a letter that stated: "Hi. My name is Mitchell. My thoughts and prayers are with those people who were killed, or shot, and their families. I am really sad inside about everything. My thoughts and prayers are with those kids that I go to school with. I really want people to know the real Mitchell someday. Sincerely, Mitchell Johnson."
Following the shooting, Johnson's attorney claimed that he had been sexually abused when he was 6 and 7 years old by a "family member of the daycare where he was placed."
Golden by all accounts, came from a stable household, having a good relationship with both his parents, and regularly visiting his grandparents and great-grandmother. Both of his parents worked as postal workers, while his paternal grandfather, Douglas Golden, was a wildlife conservation officer in Jonesboro. He was raised to be familiar with firearms and their use at an early age; he was given his first firearm by his father when he was 6 years old.
Golden was a 6th grader at the school, where schoolmates said he displayed troublesome behavior. He would often engage other students in fist fights and use profane language when speaking with teachers. A classmate accused him of killing her cat with a BB gun. After that shooting, Johnson claimed that Golden approached him wanting to start a shooting spree at their school.
Golden was also a problem around his neighborhood. Neighbors say he was a menace; he cursed and yelled, threatened to shoot people with his BB gun, and he rode around with a sheathed hunting knife strapped to his leg and reportedly killed cats in his backyard, including 1 that he starved to death in a barrel. He killed more people than Mitchell. For a while they had been talking about 1 day shooting up the school, but it was just talk. All of a sudden, the week before the shooting Andrew said they should actually go through with the shooting, and from then on they started planning.
Johnson and Golden met and became friends on a school bus they rode home from their middle school. Together they were known to bully other students, and were recalled talking of wanting to belong to the Bloods and smoke marijuana.
On the night before the shooting, Golden assisted Johnson in loading his mother's Dodge Caravan with camping supplies, snack foods, 7 weapons (2 semi-automatic rifles, 1 bolt-action rifle and 4 handguns and 3,500 rounds of ammunition), which had been stolen from Golden's grandfather's house. The following morning, the boys drove in the van to Westside Middle School. As they arrived, Golden pulled the fire alarm while Johnson took the weapons to the woods outside of the school. Golden then ran back to the woods. When children and teachers filed out of the school, the 2 boys opened fire. The boys killed 4 female students and 1 teacher and wounded 10 others. Golden and Johnson attempted to run back to the van and escape, but police captured them. The boys evidently planned to run away as they had food, sleeping bags, and survival gear in the van.
Due to their
age, they were tried as juveniles, and were found guilty of 5 counts of murder.
Following their convictions, Johnson and Golden were taken by National Guard
helicopter to Alexander, Arkansas, so they could be placed at the Arkansas
Juvenile Assessment & Treatment Center (AJATC), the Arkansas Department
of Human Services Youth Services Division's juvenile facility and the state's
most secure juvenile facility.
The 2 boys were among the youngest people ever charged with murder in American history. The Jonesboro prosecutor later stated that were it not for their ages, he would have sought a death sentence for the pair. In August 1998, both boys were sentenced to confinement until they reached the age of 21, which is the maximum sentence available under Arkansas law. They would have served until only age 18 had federal authorities not added additional confinement for weapons charges. Judge Ralph Wilson commented, "This is a case where the punishment will not fit the crime." The case led to a wide public outcry for tougher sentencing laws pertaining to juvenile offenders. Since then, the laws regarding young offenders have changed in Arkansas.
1. Natalie Brooks, age 11
2. Paige Ann Herring, age 12
3. Stephanie Johnson, age 12
4. Britthney Ryen Varner, age 11
5. Shannon Wright, age 32 an English teacher, died while shielding student Emma Pittman from a pair of bullets. Surgery failed to restore Wright's blood pressure.
1. Tristian McGowan, 13, shot twice in the arm
2. Whitney Irving, 11, shot in the abdomen
3. Kim Candace Porter, shot in the arm
4. Crystal Barnes, 13
5. Ashley Betts, 12
6. Jennifer Jacobs, 12, shot in the abdomen
7. Jenna Brooks, 12
8. Brittney Lambie, 13, shot in the leg, cutting her femoral artery
9. Candace Porter, 11
10. Lynette Thetford, 42, teacher, shot in the stomach
Johnson was released on his 21st birthday in 2005, having spent only 7 years in prison - allowing him to walk out of prison a free man with no criminal record.
Golden was released in 2007, also his 21st birthday, after spending 9 years in prison.
Johnson reached his 21st birthday - allowing him to walk out of prison a free man.
Because of a since-closed loophole in Arkansas' juvenile justice system, the state had no way to hold Johnson and accomplice Golden beyond their 18th birthdays. The Federal prosecutors used weapons laws to keep the boys locked up until age 21. Golden is scheduled to be freed in 2007.
In fact, under the Arkansas court system, Johnson emerges with no criminal record. And Deputy Prosecutor Mike Walden said he's not aware of any restrictions that would prohibit Johnson from buying a gun after leaving a federal facility near Memphis, TN. Also, Johnson can live wherever he likes, and he doesn't have to check in with a probation officer.
"This young man should not be walking free today, but there was nothing at the time under the law to allow for any other scenario," said state Rep. Dustin McDaniel, who represents Jonesboro.
Second Judicial District Prosecutor Brent Davis said there's nothing his office can do to heap punishment on one of the Westside Middle School shooters who is facing a misdemeanor charge of carrying a gun in Washington County.
"I really don't think there is anything at all we can do," Davis said about the January 1st arrest of Johnson, now 22, in Fayetteville for alleged possession of a controlled substance and carrying a weapon, both misdemeanor crimes.
Johnson's mug shot when arrested in 2007
When Johnson's van was stopped by an officer on New Year's Day in Fayetteville, officers discovered 21.2 grams of marijuana in his pants pocket and a loaded 9 mm pistol in the van, according to a police report. A spokesman for the Fayetteville District Court said Johnson, who is unemployed, will appear in court on July 26 on the charges. "It's a mandatory appearance for those crimes," the spokesman said.
Johnson's whereabouts had not been widely known. Davis said he can't dictate where Johnson lives. "I would say Fayetteville is better than Jonesboro," Davis said. "If there are any options, we will pursue them, but I'm sure there aren't any."
Johnson's attorney, Doug Norwood of Fayetteville, said he was informed by Washington County Prosecutor Brian Lamb recently pending state charges against Johnson would be dropped in anticipation of federal charges being brought against the man. The charges stem from his New Year's day arrest. "I'm guessing it would be some form of a firearms violation, but I really don't know," Norwood said.
Norwood said he was hired to represent Johnson in the state proceedings and will not represent him if federal charges are filed against him. "He should really get a lawyer who specializes in federal criminal law," he said.
Johnson, 23, was arraigned in federal court on a charge of having a pistol "while being an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance." If convicted, Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or both. The federal system also does not have parole.
Johnson entered a not guilty plea and is free on $5,000 bond. The trial is set for December 3rd in Fayetteville. He can't leave Washington and Benton County without court permission, can't have a gun and must submit to drug testing and enter substance abuse counseling.
Johnson, 23, was with Justin Trammell when police stopped them New Year's Day. Trammell was driving Johnson's van. The 2 were staying with Trammell's girlfriend at her Fayetteville apartment. Johnson was ordered to have no contact with Trammell while he's awaiting trial.
Trammell, 22, was convicted at age 15 in Benton County of murdering his father with a crossbow. Trammell is on probation after pleading guilty in 2000 to 1st-degree murder.
Trammell's was the 1st case in Arkansas to be handled with blended sentencing, a combination of juvenile and adult sentencing used for youths who commit serious crimes. He was released from a juvenile facility when he turned 18.
In July, Trammell was acquitted by a Washington County Circuit Court jury of terroristic threatening. He was accused of threatening last year to kill the mother of his child.
An attorney for Johnson wants incriminating statements Johnson made to police thrown out.
Jack Schisler, assistant federal public defender, made the motion in U.S. District Court. Schisler argued that Johnson was not read his Miranda rights before police began questioning him following a traffic stop. Schisler said Johnson made incriminating statements about his use of marijuana during the questioning.
The trial is set for Jan. 28 in Fayetteville.
Schisler contends Johnson was actually placed in custody, handcuffed and locked in the back seat of a patrol car, and questioned by police numerous times during a search of the vehicle. The exchanges were recorded by cameras in the police cars and on officers' microphones.
Police said they'd been tipped that Johnson had 100 pounds of marijuana and several firearms in the van. No drugs were found other than the small amount Johnson had in his pocket.
Misdemeanor charges are punishable by not more than 1 year in jail.
The government and the attorney for Mitchell Scott Johnson, the Jonesboro school shooter, have reached an agreement that will allow some of Johnson's statements to police to be admitted at his upcoming gun possession trial.
The sides agreed that statements made after a certain time during the stop are inadmissible under Miranda rights. But, if Johnson testifies, the government might be able to use the excluded portions to challenge Johnson's testimony.
If federal prosecutors can link the 2 under a seldom-used federal guns and firearms charge, Johnson could find himself back behind bars for several years. Cases of this nature are rarely prosecuted, leading many to wonder if Johnson's history of killing as a juvenile fueled the prosecution.
The charge, is rarely seen. Had Johnson been successfully prosecuted on a state charge in Fayetteville District Court for the same behavior, the charge would be a misdemeanor and he'd be facing less than a year in jail and a small fine. The pistol was a Christmas present and was apparently legal, aside from being loaded and in the vehicle.
"This case is about a journey that got cut short by a lie," Johnson's attorney John Schisler said.
Johnson was headed for California hoping to make a new start, according to Schisler.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes told jurors, the prosecution will show that Johnson had possession of the gun, which was once shipped in interstate commerce, giving the feds jurisdiction. Fowlkes also said he'll put on the witnesses who'll testify that Johnson was a "consistent and heavy user of marijuana" and that Johnson "was high a significant amount of the time they were around him."
Prosecutors are relying on marijuana being listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic, which means it's highly addictive, has no medical use and is highly abused, according to Gary Dallas, a forensic chemist with the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
Schisler said he thinks prosecutors can prove some of their case but not that Johnson is "a marijuana addict."
The alleged marijuana in Johnson's pocket was tested last year at the crime lab and determined to be pot. But, Dallas said there was a clerical error with the report generated at the lab, which indicated the substance wasn't marijuana. Another test earlier this month found it to be marijuana, Dallas said.
There's also a problem with some of the audio on the video recording of the traffic stop. The body microphone of Washington County Deputy Steve Hulsey, the officer making the stop, was not working properly and didn't pick up the entire conversation.
A federal court jury took about an hour to convict Johnson of having a gun while regularly smoking marijuana.
Jurors were not told of Johnson's past.
"This was not a routine drug and gun case for us," U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe said after the trial. "We strongly believe Mitchell Johnson is a person who shouldn't have a gun, especially when he's using controlled substances."
Johnson did not testify during the trial. Neither Johnson nor his attorney, U.S. Public Defender Jack Schisler, spoke with reporters as they left the federal courthouse. He won't be sentenced until the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre sentencing report. That should take 30 to 45 days.
Prosecutors said they don't know whether Johnson's juvenile record will be part of the pre sentencing report.
The government was put in the surreal position of opposing the introduction of Johnson's drug tests during the trial. The defense had 7 different negative drug tests, including 4 required for employment and 3 done by the federal probation office while Johnson was free on bond awaiting trial.
Prosecutors had to prove 3 things -- that Johnson unlawfully used or was addicted to marijuana, that he had a gun, and that the gun had once been in interstate commerce.
Prosecutors finished their case with testimony from 3 of Johnson's co-workers at a Fayetteville Wal-Mart. They testified they smoked marijuana with Johnson several times around the time he was arrested and they saw him stoned at other times.
One, Dustin Wynboom, initially lied on the stand about if he had owned a gun and was later brought back to clear up his testimony. Vanessa Wynboom had initially refused to cooperate with either side in the investigation and the 3rd, Michael Lindsey, said he got so drunk he fell down the steps at the party where he smoked a small amount of marijuana with Johnson.
Johnson didn't deny he had the gun. He told police where to find it. Johnson allegedly told a prosecution witness that people were after him and he needed the pistol for protection.
The pistol was manufactured in California, meaning it had traveled in interstate commerce by being shipped. That gave federal prosecutors jurisdiction in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Taylor told jurors that Johnson's possession of the gun and his drug use at around the same time made the case.
"We are not required to prove he rolled a joint and was smoking it at the same time the gun was on his hip," Taylor said.
Johnson's attorney, Schisler, told jurors in his closing argument the case was based on a lie.
Johnson and Justin Trammell were supposedly headed for California to make a new start when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Police were watching Johnson because they'd gotten an anonymous tip he had 100 pounds of marijuana and several guns. Police didn't find the large amount of marijuana. The loaded 9 mm pistol was in a backpack in the back of the van. There was also a shotgun in the back of the van.
"This is the 100-pounds-of-marijuana case that dropped down to the nothing case that is trying to be salvaged at Mitchell Johnson's expense," Schisler told jurors during closing arguments.
Trammell was driving Johnson's van the night they were stopped. Trammell was not called to testify by either side in the case.
A week after being convicted of being an illegal drug user in possession of a gun, Johnson has a hearing set to revoke his release while awaiting sentencing.
Johnson was arrested over the weekend by Bentonville police after an officer searched Johnson said she found a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. Police were investigating the use of a stolen credit card at the convenience store where Johnson works.
Benton County West District Judge Jeff Conner set a $50,000 bond for Johnson for the latest arrest on a misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance. Police asked prosecutors to add a charge of theft by receiving in connection with the stolen card.
A customer at Fast Trip, 307 S. Walton Blvd., mistakenly left a credit card at the store and reported it missing after discovering unauthorized charges.
The U.S. Probation Office will ask U.S. District Judge Jimm Hendren to revoke Johnson's bond.
According to the probation office, Johnson has complied with conditions of bond until now. But, probation officers said Johnson being found guilty on the drugs and gun charge less than 1 week ago and his conduct related to the weekend arrest appears to be a pattern of similar behavior.
"This office believes the defendant poses a danger to the community as it is believed he does not care about the conditions of his release," according to probation officer Michael Scott, who wrote the request.
Release conditions required Johnson maintain or actively seek employment, remain within Benton and Washington counties, submit to random drug testing, and refrain from associating with convicted felons.
State prosecutors filed new charges Johnson based on his most recent arrest February 2nd in Bentonville.
Benton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Wilkinson filed felony charges of theft by receiving and financial identity fraud against Johnson in Benton County Circuit Court.
An additional charge of possessing marijuana may be added later, Wilkinson said. Johnson is to be arraigned March 17 before Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith.
Johnson was arrested while at work at the Fast Trip convenience store at 307 S. Walton Blvd. after a man complained he accidentally left his debit card at the store and someone was making purchases.
A cashier at Burger King picked Johnson out of a photo lineup. She remembered Johnson because his purchase was declined, according to a probable cause affidavit submitted by Bentonville Police Lt. Jon Simpson.
Johnson plead not guilty to 2 felony charges of theft by receiving and financial identity fraud in Benton County Circuit Court.
Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith plans a pretrial hearing May 5 and a jury trial June 24.
Because the victim was disabled, the charge carries a stiffer penalty -- punishable by up to 20 years in prison, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Wilkinson said. Additional charges may also be pending in Washington County, since the debit card was used there, police said.
Several transactions were made for small amounts, including gas and fast food, over a three-day period, and police have said video surveillance shows Johnson using the card.
When arrested, Johnson had a small amount of marijuana in his pocket, police said. Based on that, Johnson faces one misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in Bentonville District Court.
Golden has been found and subpoenaed for a civil lawsuit.
Court documents filed in Craighead County court show Golden, now 21, received the subpoena April 8 to appear back in the city. He and fellow school shooter Mitchell Johnson are named in the suit by Jonesboro attorney Bobby McDaniel, filed on behalf of the victims' relatives.
McDaniel already deposed Johnson, who put much of the blame for the shooting on Golden. (see deposition at end of this casefile)
"I will get into extreme detail with Andrew Golden, how this happened, why it happened and who did what and let him address comments Mitchell Johnson made, especially Andrew Golden being the ringleader," McDaniel stated. "The families want to know more than anything what happened and why."
McDaniel declined to say where a process server found Golden. However, court documents show Golden may be living under 2 different assumed names since his release.
Golden's deposition before McDaniel is scheduled for May 6.
about $1,000 chasing this kid down out of my own pocket because I need to
find out what happened," McDaniel said.
Johnson Asks Judge For Relocation, Cites Problems In Jail
Johnson told a judge he's a victim of violence and wants out of the Benton County Jail.
He told Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith he has been "jumped" more than once while at jail. He is asking that either his $50,000 bond be reduced or that he be returned to the Washington County Detention Center.
Keith set a hearing to consider those requests June 9. Johnson is represented by Scott McElveen, a deputy public defender.
A mental exam was ordered for Johnson.
Benton County Senior Circuit Judge Tom Keith approved a public defender office's request for an evaluation at Ozark Guidance. A July 14 status hearing is planned.
Johnson's attorney, Scott McElveen, also dropped a request for a reduction of Johnson's $50,000 bond or for him be returned to the Washington County Detention Center. Johnson claimed he was assaulted more than once while in jail in Benton County.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Wilkinson said he found no evidence of problems with Johnson and other inmates.
Federal prosecutors ask a judge to sentence Johnson to more prison time than sentencing guidelines specify, saying his criminal history is not reflected accurately.
Johnson is to be sentenced thursday.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or both. The guidelines are not mandatory and a judge may depart from the recommended sentence if good reasons exist.
Prosecutors contend Johnson’s juvenile conviction on 5 counts of capital murder and 10 counts of 1st-degree battery are not adequately reflected in a pre-sentencing report.
“The criminal history score does not adequately reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s past criminal conduct or the likelihood that the defendant will commit other crimes,” according to the motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
The pre-sentencing report addresses pending charges against Johnson in Benton County, which prosecutors said further illustrates the appropriateness of a stiffer sentence.
Johnson shouldn't get more federal prison time on gun and drug charges because of his involvement in the 1998 shootings at a Jonesboro elementary school, his attorney said.
Giving Johnson more prison time than recommended based on the Jonesboro shootings would, under the circumstances, be the same as re sentencing him for those killings, his attorney, Jack Schisler, said Wednesday.
Schisler said Johnson received the maximum available sentence for his part in the Jonesboro shootings, which resulted in his being incarcerated until he was 21 years old. And, those crimes are considered in the pre sentencing report, Schisler said.
Johnson also shouldn't get more federal prison time because he has state charges pending against him in Benton County because he hasn't been to court on those charges yet, Schisler said.
Johnson will spend 4 years in federal prison for having guns and marijuana.
U.S. District Judge Jimm Hendren agreed with the government Thursday that Johnson should receive more prison time because of his criminal history.
"No one else walks the streets after being convicted of capital murder, they're either in prison for life or on death row," Assistant U.S. Attorney Candice Taylor told the judge.
Johnson's attorney, Jack Schisler, argued Johnson received the maximum available sentence for his part in the Jonesboro shootings, which resulted in his being incarcerated until he was 21 years old.
Schisler said the government wanted more prison time now because prosecutors didn't think Johnson was punished harshly enough for the 1998 shootings.
"His past is his past and it continues to haunt him," Schisler said.
Juvenile offenses don't count as felonies for federal sentencing purposes. Arkansas law at the time didn't allow a 13 year-old to be charged with murder as an adult. That has since been changed. Also, because Johnson was charged as a juvenile, he was not prohibited from possessing guns after becoming an adult.
Hendren, noting Johnson committed at least 15 felonies, including five capital offenses, during the shooting spree, agreed the sentencing report didn't adequately reflect Johnson's criminal history.
"What you did can't be watered down by compassionate juvenile laws," Hendren said.
Hendren also said it was "very, very worrisome" that Johnson, given his history, again had guns.
Before being sentenced, Johnson apologized for both the latest legal problems and to the families of the Jonesboro victims.
"There's not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened," Johnson said.
Hendren pointed out Johnson still has a life to live while his victims don't and their families must also live with the consequences of Johnson's actions.
In addition to 4 years in prison, Johnson was sentenced to 3 years supervised probation and ordered not to have guns or drugs. Hendren didn't levy a fine because Johnson still owes money from the Jonesboro convictions.
Golden, 22, applied for a concealed-carry permit under another name, but regulators denied his request, a state police spokesman said Wednesday.
Golden, applied for the permit under the name of Drew Douglass Grant, listing a home address in Evening Shade -- only 55 miles from where he and Johnson committed murder, police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
A concealed-carry permit application requires fingerprint samples and a detailed personal history. The applications are vetted by state police personnel.
Fingerprints provided with the application filed by Grant matched those given by Golden at age 11 in the aftermath of a shooting that stunned Arkansas and the United States, Sadler said.
"Early on in the application process, some red flags went up with the identity of the applicant who had listed his name as Drew Grant," Sadler stated. "After some further checking, there was a determination made that he was 1 and the same as Andrew Golden."
Regulators sent Golden a 2-page letter noting several reasons why his application was rejected, Sadler said. One was "dealing with a 1998 incident," while the other involved previous addresses where Grant said he lived.
"At least 2 previous addresses that were known to the department ... were not listed," Sadler said. While Sadler did not offer specifics, those two addresses likely were the state's Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility -- where Golden was held until his 18th birthday -- and the federal prison where he served time until he turned 21.
Golden also reportedly gave an address after a recent motorcycle crash that did not match up with any on his application, Sadler said.
Sadler said Golden has 10 days to appeal the rejection after he receives the denial letter, sent by certified mail. Sadler said police investigators were examining whether criminal charges were warranted over the accuracy of the rejected application.
Both Golden and Johnson are named in a civil suit filed on behalf of the victims' relatives to stop the 2 from profiting from the slayings. During a hearing last month over a deposition Golden is to give in the civil suit, his mother Pat Golden acknowledged he took a new name after his release from prison. She also said he now lives alone and attends a school, but did not offer any other personal details.
"Andrew Golden ceased to exist when he changed his name," Pat Golden said.
Still, emotion over the shooting runs high. Around the time of Golden's release from federal prison, Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann warned he could not guarantee Golden's safety if he returned to Jonesboro, the county seat. During hearings over the deposition, Craighead County Circuit Judge David Burnett barred lawyers from releasing Golden's new name or his home address.
During his deposition for the civil suit, Johnson put blame for the shooting on Golden, saying his younger classmate wanted to "scare some people and prove a point." The high-powered rifles used in the shooting came from the home of Golden's grandfather. At trial, Johnson admitted his guilt while Golden gazed straight ahead with wide-open eyes, looking down occasionally during emotional testimony.
A judge found him guilty after his lawyer acknowledged his crimes, but Golden himself said nothing, and has not spoken publicly since then.
Johnson, 24, faces a charge of fraudulently using a stolen credit card at a Fayetteville restaurant, according to prosecutors. Trial is set for Jan. 23 before Circuit Judge William Storey.
Storey issued an order that Johnson be transferred from the Benton County Jail to the Washington County Jail, "as soon as possible for an early plea," then returned to Benton County.
Circuit Judge William Storey sentenced Johnson, 24, to 10 years at the Arkansas Department of Correction on the theft charge and 10 years with 2 suspended on the identity fraud charge for a total of 18 years. The sentences will run concurrent with state sentences from Benton County. Johnson was given credit for 69 days jail time served.
"Mr. Johnson, you continue to run afoul of the law," Judge Storey told Johnson during a brief court appearance. "I hope this is the last time."
This plea bargain wrapped up the last of the pending charges in Northwest Arkansas against Johnson.
A judge's decision to give a Jonesboro school shooter more time in federal prison for a gun and drug conviction because of his violent criminal history was reasonable, a federal appeals court stated.
Johnson was sentenced in September 2007 to 4 years in federal prison for having guns and marijuana.
U.S. District Judge Jimm Hendren heard that case and agreed with federal prosecutors that Johnson should receive a stiffer punishment because of his criminal history.
Johnson appealed, arguing Hendren abused his discretion by giving him more time because his juvenile convictions were already accounted for and because his juvenile convictions were not lenient. Johnson had received the maximum available sentence at the time for the shootings and theft of guns.
Johnson can appeal his sentences on identity fraud and drug possession even though he pleaded guilty, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.
Johnson plead guilty in 2008 in Benton County Circuit Court to financial-identity fraud, theft by receiving and possession of a controlled substance.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for identity fraud and 12 months for possession of a controlled substance, to be served concurrently, and received a 10-year suspended sentence on the theft charge.
In his appeal, he argued that the judge incorrectly considered evidence of his juvenile record during the sentencing phase and that the 12-year sentence for identity theft was excessive.
Prosecutors argued that Johnson was prohibited from appealing because of his guilty plea before a judge.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Johnson’s favor and sent the case back to circuit court for another sentencing hearing.
“An appeal may be taken after a guilty plea when it alleges evidentiary errors which arose after the plea and during the sentencing phase, regardless of whether or not a jury was impaneled for that phase of the trial,” Justice Paul Danielson wrote.
Johnson is currently at the state’s prison in Wrightsville.
Johnson has been turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court in an appeal of drug and gun convictions out of Fayetteville.
Johnson, now 29, began serving the federal sentence in December 2011 after being paroled from state prison on separate theft and drug charges.
Johnson is set for release in May 2015.
Johnson sought to have the federal conviction thrown out on procedural grounds. The high court turned down the case without stating any reasons.
Partial Transcript of Johnson deposition for a civil trial brought on behalf of the victims of the Jonesboro Arkansas School Shooting. The account is now public information.
Bobby McDaniel, the Jonesboro attorney who was asking the questions of Johnson in 2007 when his deposition for the future litigation was taken. It has taken a decade-on behalf of the families of the victims to get Johnson and Golden's account of that day on the record, giving details that were not previously reported in the casefile. With Johnson's deposition now in hand, McDaniel recently gained approval from a judge, over the strenuous objections of opposing counsel, to take the no-questions-barred deposition of Golden. The judge ruled that McDaniel couldn't release that deposition to the public until the lawsuit against Golden comes to a conclusion, but at this writing, McDaniel is closer than ever to finally being able to compare the 2 killers' accounts of that day.
Just before Christmas 1997, Johnson told McDaniel, Golden approached him with a plan. “He was, like, ‘I've been thinking about doing some scaring of some people because I'm really tired of them playing with me,' ” Johnson said.
McDaniel personally doesn't buy the idea that the Golden was the ringleader and mastermind of the crime, but Johnson told the attorney that Golden said he wanted to shoot over the heads of teachers and students as they filed out. Nobody, Golden assured Johnson, would get hurt. He wanted Johnson, who had bragged about his gang connections, to secure a vehicle and act as a getaway driver.
At first, Johnson said, he told Golden that he had to be out of his mind. But when Golden brought up the idea again during spring break, Johnson was ready to sign on. According to Johnson, Golden had recently been suspended from school for telling another student about his plan to bring a gun to school. Johnson, meanwhile, had been put in detention and in-school suspension several times since Christmas, including 1 instance in which a teacher took away a prized Nike hat. Both boys had reached an emotional boiling point.
Even as they were driving to the school with their weapons, Johnson said, he still believed that no one would be killed. “He told me solely that it was to scare people,” Johnson told McDaniel. “He didn't tell me that he went there to kill anybody. And I specifically told him I have a brother and sister that went to middle school. They're friends of mine, but I call them my brother and sister, and I didn't want anyone getting hurt.” When they were almost there, Johnson said, Golden suddenly changed the plan, telling Johnson that instead of waiting in the van, he wanted him to come along to the ambush site. Johnson agreed.
Ballistics matching later proved that bullets from Johnson's rifle struck 3 victims that day, including delivering 1 of the wounds that killed teacher Shannon Wright, Johnson said the only shot he recalls firing was purposefully aimed into the air. Seconds after Golden began shooting, Johnson saw 11-year-old Natalie Brooks drop, struck in the head. After that, Johnson claims, it all goes blank.
When the shooting stopped, a man working on a roof at the school spotted the 2 boys as they fled. When he began to shout at them, Johnson pulled a .38 caliber pistol and fired twice in his direction. Perhaps finally overcome by the gravity of what they'd just done, Golden lagged behind, then began telling Johnson to stop. Johnson, the .38 still in his hand, snubbed the gun to Golden's head. “You got me into this,” Johnson said, “and we're getting out.”
That was enough to get Golden moving again, and the 2 boys ran into a street near the school. They were nearing their getaway van when a police car roared into the narrow lane and squealed to a stop in front of them. The officer inside jumped out, leveled his pistol, and told them to drop their weapons.
Convicted as juveniles, they were sentenced by the state to be imprisoned until they turned 18, and were eventually shipped to Alexander Youth Services Center southwest of Little Rock. Just before their state time was up, both were convicted of the federal crime of bringing a gun to school. At age 18, they were transferred to federal prisons until they turned 21. Johnson went to a prison in Memphis. It's unknown at this writing where Golden was held, but the rumor mill at the time said he was incarcerated somewhere in the American West, possibly in Montana or Wyoming. Prior to being issued a gag order in the case, Bobby McDaniel said that Golden had returned to Arkansas, where he has been living and working under an assumed name.
On August 11, 2005, Johnson was released from federal custody, his record cleared. After staying in Memphis for a few days with his mother, a friend he'd met in prison came to Tennessee, picked him up, and drove him to what he thought would be a new life of anonymity in Columbia, SC. Once in South Carolina, Johnson worked for a landscaping company, began attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church, and started thinking seriously again about his childhood dreams of becoming a minister.
After 8 months, Johnson decided to go visit his father, Scott, who had by then moved to Waterloo, WI. Johnson worked at a nursery in Wisconsin for 3 months, then came home to Arkansas to see his mother, Gretchen Woodard, who was living near Jonesboro. Soon after, Johnson told McDaniel, he wound up having a long conversation about the Westside massacre with Brandy Foreman, the stepsister of Natalie Brooks. Foreman was, at the time, dating Mitchell Johnson's brother, Monte.
After staying with his mother a few weeks, Johnson moved to Fayetteville, where he stayed on North Leveritt Street with a friend he'd met while at Alexander, Justin Trammell. Trammell plead guilty in 2000 to killing his father with a crossbow during a family argument, and was one of the 1st minors in Arkansas to be sentenced under the new, stricter juvenile sentencing guidelines put into place after the Westside Massacre. Johnson and Trammell were together on January 1, 2007, when police stopped Johnson's van for a minor traffic infraction. A search turned up marijuana and a loaded pistol. In January 2008, a federal jury convicted Johnson of the seldom-used charge of possessing a gun while being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance. On September 5th, 2008, Johnson was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison on the charge. Later he was sentenced to 12 years on state theft charges for using a customer's credit card stolen from the convenience store where he worked.
These convictions were in the future, however, when McDaniel sat down with Johnson in April 2007. In the weeks before the deposition, Johnson told McDaniel, he had been fired from his job in the photo-processing department at Wal-Mart after his boss discovered that he was one of the Westside killers. His crimes, Johnson said, follow him.
McDaniel sued gun maker Remington Arms after the shootings, though that case was dismissed in 2000. A judge also dismissed Golden's grandfather Doug Golden from the suit, which claimed he was negligent for leaving the key to unlock a cable around his firearms attached to the gun rack itself. Doug Golden died in January 2007.
Johnson at his deposition in April 2007.
From the deposition:
McDaniel: How did you select which person you put the crosshairs on, and which person you didn't put the crosshairs on?
Johnson: I didn't. Again, I don't remember shooting after the 1st— I don't remember pulling the trigger after the 1st shot. I remember Andrew shot twice first. I shot once in the air, and I looked, and I seen Natalie get hit in the head. And I don't remember anything else after that, besides Andrew coming back to get me, telling me
Johnson: Natalie Brooks' sister or stepsister, Brandy Foreman, dated my brother for about 5 months, and I met her in July last year. And at 1st she didn't want to meet me, obviously, for obvious reasons. And 1 day she came home with my brother, and I happened to be there and run into her, and we sat down and talked all night.
McDaniel: What did you tell her? What do you remember telling her?
Johnson: How regretful I was, how sorry I was that she had to lose her sister. How, you know, I deal with this every day of my life. Every day I wake up, you know, I think, you know, this should have never happened, you know?
McDaniel: Tell me how you deal with it.
Johnson: Just try to pray, “Lord, forgive me. Bless those who are lost. Bless those who remain.”
McDaniel: You do not portray yourself as a victim here, do you?
Johnson: As far as?
McDaniel: Well, you don't portray yourself as an innocent victim in this shooting, do you?
Johnson: No, sir, not necessarily, no.
McDaniel: Do you somewhat portray yourself out to be an innocent victim?
Johnson: I don't look at myself as a victim. I look at myself as, you know, having done a crime. I paid the price. At that price, I've lost my childhood. At that price, I'm now struggling every single day to support myself because I can't find a job. No one will hire me. You know, I struggle every day that I get people staring me in the face, calling me a murderer to my face. And, you know, I struggle with the fact that, you know, like you said, my deity, my God, you know, yeah, he has a problem with that, you know. Murder is a sin, you know. And, yes, it says Christ will forgive you, and I believe that, you know, but at the same time, I did lose my childhood. It was a choice I made, OK, and I'm not saying I'm a victim, but I did lose my childhood, and I've lost a lot of valuable time. And as far as getting back on my feet, I'm still not on my feet. I don't have a job, you know. I worked at Wal-Mart for a couple months. They found out who I was. Fired on the spot. I worked at Glad for 1 day, the Glad plant in Rogers, for 1 day. A guy [from] Jonesboro run into me, found out who I was, went and told them who I was. Fired on the spot. “Come see me. You're done.” And I asked him, “What did I do?” “Who you are.” “Who am I?” “You're a murderer. You're gone.” “Yes, sir. I appreciate your time. Thank you.” And I left, you know. So this follows me every day. Am I a victim? No. I made a mistake I chose to do wrong, and now it follows me.
Later, near the end of the deposition, McDaniel took a minute to ask Johnson if he had anything he wanted to say to the victims of the Westside shooting and their families.
Johnson: I'm really sorry for the losses. I am sorry that they had to go through knowing that their little girl will never come home again, that they'll never experience marriage, and they'll never experience childhood for themselves. And I was wrong.
McDaniel: Do the events of that day flash back in your mind?
Johnson: A lot.
McDaniel: When you're flashing back in your mind and the shooting is actually taking place, what thoughts were going through your mind when the shooting was taking place?
Johnson: All I remember is seeing Natalie getting hit. And that keeps replaying, keeps replaying, keeps replaying. In my dreams, sometimes during the day.
Golden completed his civil case deposition on May 6, 2008. The deposition has never been released to the public.
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