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Florida man pleads guilty in March slaying

September 28, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

A Florida man pleaded guilty Monday morning in Washington County Circuit Court to the March 23 drug-related slaying of a New Jersey man in Hagerstown.

Bobby Lavaugh Johnson, 23, of Auburndale, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime as part of a plea bargain with the state.

Johnson admitted killing Michael Eric Mackason Jr., 20, of Long Branch, with a single gunshot to the head. He originally was charged with 11 counts, including first-degree murder.

Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 30 years on the second-degree murder plea, and five additional years on the handgun plea.

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Prosecutors from the Washington County State's Attorney's office told Judge Frederick Wright that they were recommending a 25-year sentence on the murder count, with all but 12 1/2 years suspended, and a concurrent sentence on the handgun charge.

Sentencing was delayed until 9 a.m. on Oct. 6 so that relatives of both Mackason and Johnson could be present.

Prosecutors gave the following account of the murder:

On March 23 at around 10 p.m., Johnson and a friend drove to North Potomac Street and West North Avenue, looking to buy crack cocaine. They met Mackason, who got in the back seat of Johnson's car to make a drug deal.

The deal went bad, and Johnson and his friend said they saw Mackason pull a gun from his pants pocket. At that point, Johnson shot him once in the head. The .380-caliber bullet, fired from about a foot from Mackason's face, entered near the tip of his nose and lodged in his brain.

Johnson and his friend dragged Mackason's body from the car, dumped it in the street, and left the scene.

Police found a pager, $76 in cash and nine $20 "rocks" of crack cocaine on Mackason's body. They said people who knew the victim said he was a known drug dealer in the area who carried a gun for protection.

Mackason was taken to Washington County Hospital by rescue workers. He died in the emergency room a few hours later.

Johnson was picked up on unrelated warrants in Bartow, Fla., and extradited to Maryland.

Johnson was being held in the Washington County Detention Center without bond awaiting sentencing.

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