“Do you believe medical records or do you believe the government’s theory? Science or speculation?” defense attorney Jason Downs asked jurors Tuesday, as Jashua Johnson’s trial for the death of Devon Brown came to a close. “Because the two don’t go together.”
Less than four hours later, those jurors found Johnson innocent of murder, acquitting him of all charges in connection with the shooting death of 22-year-old Brown. Johnson was arrested when he was 19 years old; his release forms were filed a week before his 21st birthday.
Defense attorneys argued that physical evidence showed Johnson could not have been the shooter and that witnesses who identified Johnson were impaired by marijuana consumption, poor eyesight, and for one witness, his own biases.
Police found Brown unconscious and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in the 1700 block of Galen Street Southeast on July 8, 2012. Prosecutors say that Brown was shot twice; the first bullet entered his chest and severed his spine, the second bullet broke bones in his leg.
During the three-day trial, prosecutors argued that Brown and his two friends Terrence Green and Marcus Eggleston were hanging out in on Galen Street around midnight when they saw Jahi Marshall and Keith Betz approaching from down the street.
Green then noticed Johnson approaching from a set of stairs, said Assistant United States Attorney Shana Fulton in closing arguments. After the sudden sound of gunshots, Green looked up to see Betz push Marshall “into the line of fire,” Fulton said.
Marshall fled and Johnson followed, still shooting toward the 1700 block of Galen Street Southeast, said Fulton. Both Green and Eggleston identified Johnson as the shooter, Fulton said, an identification strengthened by the fact both knew him from around the neighborhood.
Marshall was shot five times and Brown was shot twice, with “bullets that weren’t meant for him,” said Fulton. Marshall survived, said Fulton, but Johnson’s intention to kill Marshall transferred to Brown.
“Intent to kill doesn’t end because he shot the wrong person,” Fulton said during closing arguments.
In his closing arguments, Downs said that Eggleston was biased against Johnson, pointing out that Eggleston called Johnson “a dirty little m— f—.”
Downs also questioned Eggleston’s identification, because Eggleston testified that he smoked a joint 20 minutes before the shooting and said the marijuana made him more alert. And Eggleston himself said it was very dark, Downs noted.
Green’s identification also gave jurors reason to doubt, said Downs. Green is near-sighted in one eye, far-sighted in the other, and wasn’t wearing his prescription glasses that night. Downs asked jurors to recall that Green misidentified the color of Johnson’s shirt in open court.
In her rebuttal, Fulton said that people don’t become blind when they take their glasses off.
Inside the courtroom, some spectators expressed audible relief when the verdict was read.
As one man exited, he repeated, “He beat this. He beat this.”
Johnson’s release orders have been added to this post.