LANCASTER – Timothy Johnson is guilty of robbing and murdering Lancaster store owner Reed Keith, a jury ruled Friday.
An Antelope Valley jury found 25-year-old Johnson guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree robbery, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The jury also found true a special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during a robbery.
The conviction stems from an incident that occurred during the afternoon of March 23, 2012 at the e-Chaps Computer Store at 2007 West Avenue K in Lancaster.
Armed with a handgun and wearing a ski mask, Johnson confronted Keith and a friend inside the store and said, “This is a robbery, get on the floor!” according to court testimony.
Keith’s friend got on the floor, but the store owner refused. After a brief exchange, Johnson shot Keith multiple times, according to the prosecutor.
“He was trying to rip off Reed Keith. Reed Keith wouldn’t have any of it… and so he ends up shooting and killing him,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathon Chung said during the trial.
Keith was shot in the knee, chest and head, the prosecutor said.
Johnson then stole computers from the store, along with Keith’s wallet. Johnson also snatched car keys and a cell phone from Keith’s friend, John Kimmons, who managed to escape unharmed while Johnson was rummaging the store.
Kimmons was one of several witnesses who testified during the week-long murder trial. Key testimony also came from Johnson’s ex-girlfriend and one-time co-defendant, Jinea Ingram.
Ingram testified that she drove Johnson to and from the computer store because Johnson told her he wanted to “hit a lick” (slang term for robbery). Ingram also testified that she drove Johnson to his mother’s house in Lancaster following the robbery. The stolen computers and Keith’s wallet were later recovered from the Lancaster home, according to court testimony.
Also testifying during the trial was Mercedez Johnson (no relation), who gave Timothy Johnson a ride out of town hours after the incident. Mercedez Johnson testified that she was unaware of the robbery/ murder when she drove Johnson from Lancaster to Los Angeles, where he was arrested the following day.
Johnson, himself, took the witness stand during trial and claimed he did not rob or kill anyone. He blamed it all on Ingram, saying she and another man had brought the stolen computers to his home after the incident.
Johnson’s defense attorney claimed Johnson was “obviously challenged” and that Jinea Ingram was a liar who was framing his client.
“Jinea and the actual robber-murderer set out to steal used computers…” Pierpont Laidley said during his closing statement to the jury. “Isn’t it just kind of convenient that Jinea’s father repairs computers?”
The jury rejected this defense and found Johnson guilty on all counts. Johnson will face life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced September 19.
Ingram has a sentencing hearing on August 14.
She pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter on May 6 and is expected to be sentenced to 21 years in state prison.
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