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Man found guilty of attempted murder in road-rage case

February 23, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A Baltimore man was convicted of attempted second-degree murder in Washington County Circuit Court Thursday in connection with a June 19, 2006, road-rage incident on Interstate 70.

Jimmie Lee Johnson, 36, also was convicted of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, carrying a handgun in a vehicle, use of a handgun during the commission of a violent crime and possession of marijuana.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley presided over the trial.

The road rage occurred when Johnson, driving a Chevrolet Suburban, and Kyle Hitchcock, driving a Chrysler PT Cruiser, were both eastbound on Interstate 70.

Johnson fired a 9 mm handgun at Hitchcock's PT Cruiser.

Johnson's defense attorney, William R. Buie, mounted a self-defense case against the charges.

Johnson testified that Hitchcock had been driving aggressively, made an obscene gesture and directed a racial slur at him.

"It reached a point where I couldn't take it anymore. My life was in danger," Johnson testified.

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Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil called self-defense an "absolutely unbelievable" argument.

The PT Cruiser is relatively small, and would have been no match for a Chevrolet Suburban, he said in closing arguments. Unloading a 9 mm handgun magazine was a clear case of trying to kill somebody, Veil said.

The all-white jury of six men and six women deliberated for less than an hour Thursday afternoon.

Johnson is being held without bond pending sentencing. Conviction of attempted second-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

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