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Prosecutors to seek death penalty against man charged in Chambersburg shooting

August 28, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a man charged with criminal homicide in the Feb. 1 shooting death of a Chambersburg man whose body was found in a stolen vehicle in Harrisburg, Pa.

The notice of aggravating circumstances was filed Tuesday in Franklin County Court against Juwan R. Johnson, 24, of no fixed address, Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah Zook said.

Johnson is charged with criminal homicide, robbery and theft in the death of 24-year-old Gregory Street.

The notice cites two aggravating circumstances - that the killing was committed during the course of a felony and that Johnson has "a significant history of felony convictions involving the use or threat of violence."

As an adult, Johnson has faced criminal charges in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, according to Pennsylvania court records. Robbery, theft, assault and firearms charges in Montgomery County were dismissed in 2002, according to court records, and 2003 burglary and theft charges were dismissed.

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In 2004 in Montgomery County, Johnson was found guilty of disorderly conduct. That same year, he was found guilty in Philadelphia on drug possession and delivery charges, according to court records.

Johnson was in court Wednesday for mandatory arraignment on the charges. His case has been scheduled for the November trial term, said his attorney, Gregory Abeln.

The robbery and theft charges against Johnson are felonies, according to court records. Zook said he could not discuss Johnson's previous criminal history.

Abeln said he had not seen the notice of aggravating circumstances. As a former prosecutor, he said he was not surprised by the move, which the prosecution might use to try and negotiate a plea deal for a life sentence.

Abeln said there was no weapon, DNA or other forensic evidence to tie Johnson to the shooting.

"It boils down to two witnesses who saw him in the car," Abeln said.

At Johnson's preliminary hearing, Street's girlfriend, Shelby Flythe, testified that she parked her vehicle in front of her East Washington Street home and went inside, leaving Street and Johnson in the vehicle. When she was in the house, she heard something like gunshots and saw the vehicle being driven away.

A neighbor testified to hearing gunshots, then looking outside to see Johnson standing next to the vehicle with Street slumped over the seat. The neighbor testified that Johnson got behind the wheel and drove off.

Street's body still was in the Ford Excursion when it was found the next day in Harrisburg. He had been shot several times in the head, police said.

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