LANCASTER – A trial is underway in an Antelope Valley courtroom for Timothy Johnson, the 25-year-old man charged with robbing and murdering a Lancaster store owner in 2012.
The jury heard an opening statement from the prosecution Monday afternoon.
Facts, witness testimony and physical evidence would prove that Johnson robbed the e-Chap Computers and More store and shot to death owner Reed Keith on March 23, 2012, stated Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Chung in outlining his case to the jury.
Johnson’s girlfriend and one-time co-defendant, Jinea Ingram, pleaded to voluntary manslaughter in connection with Keith’s death; and Ingram would testify during the trial, Chung told the jury.
Johnson told Ingram he wanted to do “a lick” (slang term for robbery); and then he had Ingram drop him off down the street from Keith’s store, Chung said.
Armed with a handgun and wearing a ski mask, Johnson entered e-Chap Computers and confronted Keith and a friend inside the store, Chung said.
The friend, John Kimmons, took the witness stand Monday afternoon.
Kimmons said the gunman ordered them down on the floor, but Keith refused to comply.
While down on the floor, Kimmons said he heard Keith and the gunman arguing and then he heard four gunshots. After the second shot, the gunman said, “You didn’t think I’d shoot you, did you?’” according to Kimmons’ testimony.
After the shooting, Kimmons said he was forced to lay face down next to Keith’s body, as the gunman asked him a series of questions while rummaging through the store.
When ordered, he handed over his keys and cell phone to the gunman, Kimmons said.
“He said to me ‘now I have to kill you too. I can’t leave any witnesses,’” Kimmons testified.
Kimmons said he was able to escape when the gunman went to the back of the store. He said he ran to the Denny’s next door for help.
Two other witnesses would testify that they saw Johnson leaving e-Chap Computers; and one of the witnesses got a partial license plate number from the getaway vehicle, the prosecutor said.
After the incident, Ingram drove Johnson to his mother’s Lancaster home, where authorities later recovered the stolen computers, Chung said.
By the time authorities converged on the Lancaster home, Johnson had already left and went to a former girlfriend’s house in Los Angeles, Chung said.
The former girlfriend, Mercedez Johnson, said she and Johnson were watching news coverage of Keith’s murder when Johnson said “I messed up, I didn’t mean to do it,” according to Chung.
Johnson was arrested in Los Angeles on March 24, 2012.
If convicted on the charges, Johnson faces life in prison. Witness testimony continues Tuesday.
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