LANCASTER – Timothy Johnson and his girlfriend, Jinea Ingram, will stand trial for robbing and killing Lancaster business owner Reed Keith, a judge ruled after a preliminary Thursday.
Keith, 59, was shot multiple times inside his e-Chap Computers and More store on Friday, March 23, 2012. Less than a week after the incident, officials had Johnson, 23, and Ingram, 24, in custody for the crime.
Thursday morning, inside an Antelope Valley courtroom, three witnesses gave testimony on the events leading up to and following the incident that took Keith’s life.
The first witness – John Walter Kimmons – said he was actually inside Keith’s store during the time of the robbery/murder.
Kimmons testified that he had dropped by the store for a visit, and he and Keith were planning on having lunch together that day.
Before this could happen, a Black male charged into the store pulling a ski mask over his face. The man had a gun and was pulling a rolling suitcase, according to Kimmons’ testimony.
“He was saying ‘this is a robbery, get on the floor!’” Kimmons said. The gunman physically pushed him down onto the floor, Kimmons said, but Keith remained standing.
The gunman threatened to shoot Keith if he did not comply, but Keith continued to stand and question the gunman, Kimmons testified.
Kimmons said he began crawling towards the middle of the store, away from the exchange. During this time he heard two gunshots, Kimmons testified.
Kimmons remembers the gunman saying, “You didn’t think I would shoot you, did you?” before hearing another two gunshots in rapid succession, according to his testimony.
After the shooting, the masked man wanted to know where the computers were and if the store had video surveillance, Kimmons testified. He said he told the gunman he was just a customer and that the shop was for computer repair only. The gunman demanded his car keys and began rummaging through the store, Kimmons said.
When the gunman got to the back of the store, Kimmons seized the opportunity to run out of the store. Kimmons said he didn’t actually see the gunman take anything from the store, and since the gunman was wearing a ski mask, he couldn’t describe him in detail.
“I did everything I could not to look,” Kimmons said.
Hours after the incident, authorities tracked the suspected gunman to a home in the 43000 Block of Grange Street in Lancaster.
At about 11 p.m. that night, dozens of deputies contained the neighborhood and surrounded the home (later revealed as the home where Johnson lived with his mother).
But Timothy Johnson was well out of the Antelope Valley by that time, according to testimony Thursday morning from a second witness.
Mercedez Andrea Johnson (no relation to Timothy Johnson), said she was contacted by Timothy in the late afternoon of March 23, 2012. Timothy asked her to pick him up in Lancaster, Mercedez testified.
Asked if Timothy’s voice was frantic, Mercedez said: “He sound regular to me.”
She said she drove Timothy to her place in Los Angeles, where he spent the night. The following morning, Timothy’s image was released to the media as a murder suspect.
Mercedez said she was not aware of this development until the two watched a news broadcast on Saturday, March 24, 2012.
When Timothy saw his face on the news, he said something along the lines of, “I didn’t mean to” or “I messed up,” Mercedez testified.
“I told him you need to leave my house,” Mercedez said. She said Timothy called a relative to pick him up, and she assumed he was headed to the sheriff’s station for questioning.
Around 7 p.m. that evening, Sheriff’s personnel from the gang unit followed Timothy Johnson from a residence in south Los Angeles and then detained him at a traffic stop, officials said at a press conference last year. LASD inmate records show Johnson was arrested for murder around 7:10 p.m., Saturday, March 24, 2012.
Three days after Johnson’s arrest, officials announced they had arrested Ingram, and said that Ingram had driven the getaway car.
Ingram admitted to investigators that she had agreed to drive Johnson to and from a robbery, a third witness testified Thursday morning.
Ingram told investigators she was at Johnson’s home, on March 23, 2012, when Johnson said he was going to do a “hit a lick” (slang term for robbery), according to testimony from Sheriff’s Homicide Sgt. Robert Martindale.
Ingram told investigators she dropped Johnson in a “desert area” near the AV Cardiology building, and then backed into a parking space at a nearby Thai restaurant to wait for Johnson, Martindale testified.
Cameras from the AV Cardiology building captured a man, fitting Johnson’s description. In the video, the man is wearing a grey hooded sweat suit with a green backpack strapped to his back, and lugging a rolling suitcase, Martindale testified.
Ingram told investigators that Johnson jumped into the back seat of her waiting vehicle, vigorously shook her seat and ordered her to “Drive! Drive! Drive!” Martindale testified.
Authorities later served a search warrant at Johnson’s home, where they discovered several laptops affixed with e-Chap Computer repair tags, Martindale said. Detectives also found a green backpack that contained duct tape and Keith’s wallet, Martindale testified.
Defense attorneys for both Johnson and Ingram asked few questions during Thursday’s preliminary hearing. Their motion to dismiss the case was denied, and Ingram and Johnson were ordered to stand trial on all felony counts, including robbery and murder with special circumstances.
Keith’s daughter, Casey Keith, attended the hearing.
“It’s tough,” Casey said, outside the courtroom. “It’s going to be a long process… it’s going to be hard on everyone,” she added.
Ingram and Johnson are due back in court on Friday, March 1, for a second arraignment.