Johnson asks for new trial

June 18, 1997

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Convicted kidnapper Mark A. Johnson has filed a motion for a new trial, saying he shouldn't have been convicted of kidnapping because he believed the victim was dead when he was in a car trunk.

A jury convicted Johnson on June 6 of kidnapping, attempted first-degree murder, bringing stolen property into the state, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to bring stolen property into the state.

The jury sentenced him to life in prison with no recommendation of mercy, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Johnson, of Shenandoah Junction, was convicted in the Aug. 2, 1996 attack on Milligan, 50, of Gaithersburg, Md. Milligan was lured to a motel room, attacked, put in the trunk of his own car, and thrown into the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, according to testimony. He swam to safety, testimony showed.


His attorney, Keith Wheaton, filed a motion for a new trial and a motion for a judgment of acquittal on Friday in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

In the motion for the new trial, Johnson argued that the evidence did not support the charges.

"The verdict of kidnapping was not supported by the evidence presented by the state, in that the defendant and his accomplice believed that the victim, Donald Milligan, was in fact dead when he was placed in the car and thrown into the Potomac River," according to the court motion.

Johnson still faces charges of forcing a fellow inmate at the Eastern Regional Jail to have sex with him in April, a prosecutor said Monday.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said she plans to try Johnson in Berkeley County on the two counts of sexual assault.

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