A jury found a murder defendant not guilty after a long day of court June 15 that ended with the prosecutor punching a table and a murder defendant’s shirt coming off during closing arguments in a retrial before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jeannie J. Hong.
Donnell Johnson, who is charged with first and second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime in connection to the murder of Byron Dickey on the 2100 block of Barclay Street in 2007. Johnson, 48, was convicted in 2009 for the murder. According to court documents, the two men got into a physical altercation, causing Johnson to produce a gun and chase Dickey down the street, shooting at him five times.
During Bradley Macfee, Johnson’s lawyer’s, closing statements, he tried to shred the credibility of the two eyewitness testimonies in the prosecution’s case. MacFee used jury instructions to highlight how reasonable doubt was possible because one witness’s pending charges could’ve served as motivation to lie under oath.
MacFee’s primary argument was based on Johnson’s heavily tattooed arms, which were never reported in any 9-1-1 calls or used to identify him by the eyewitnesses. To demonstrate, Macfee made Johnson remove his shirt and raise his arms above his head to show the identifying features.
“Don’t leave your common sense at the door,” MacFee said.
MacFee’s second argument for reasonable doubt was based on the testimony from a key eyewitness who was arrested for multiple drug charges. Macfee said the witness did not call 9-1-1 after allegedly watching a man get shot.
The prosecutor slammed his fist onto the table, during his closing argument, to punctuate his point that Johnson shot the victim in cold blood. The prosecutor focused on the physical evidence in the case, including shell casings, blood trails, and official incident reports presented during expert testimony that matched the stories of the eyewitnesses.
The prosecutor’s case was based on both eyewitnesses identifying Johnson as the shooter and then laying out the correct sequence of events of the shooting. The prosecution argued that it would’ve been extremely difficult to get both elements correct if the witnesses were lying.
The prosecutor, specifically, mentioned evidence from a medical examiner who worked the case, which showed a bullet wound to the hand in combination with one witness’s testimony of the victim screaming about his hand after being shot.
Following closing arguments, the jury began their deliberations that last for approximately one hour.