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Pa. man gets life for first-degree murder

Victim's brother tries to get to Juan Johnson in courtroom

Victim's brother tries to get to Juan Johnson in courtroom

February 25, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Convicted killer Juan R. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole Wednesday morning in Franklin County Court, but not before a brother of the murder victim jumped the bar in an attempt to get at Johnson.

"Too slow, baby," Johnson, aka Juwan Johnson, said after Delvin Street was wrestled to the floor by Deputy Randy Stroble. Street is the brother of Gregory Jermaine Street, 24, who was shot three times in the back of the head as he sat in a sport utility vehicle on the afternoon of Feb. 1, 2008.

Johnson, 25, no fixed address, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder before Judge Richard Walsh on Jan. 15. He stated at the time of the plea agreement he and Street "had a disagreement about money" and Street had first pulled a gun on him.

Johnson and Street were sitting in a Ford Excursion owned by Street's girlfriend, Shelby Flythe, when the shooting occurred outside her home in the 300 block of East Washington Street, according to the Chambersburg Police Department. Flythe had gone inside to use the bathroom when she heard shots fired.

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Another witness testified at Johnson's preliminary hearing he heard the shots and saw Street slumped over in the front passenger seat. The witness testified Johnson got into the driver's seat and drove away.

The Excursion with Street's body still in the front seat was found the next day in Harrisburg, Pa., police said. Johnson remained at large until March 6, when he was captured in the Philadelphia area, police said.

More than a dozen family members and friends of Street, including his mother and father, attended the sentencing, sitting on one side of the small courtroom. The family had submitted written statements in the pre-sentence report, but no one spoke during the hearing.

Family members declined to speak after the sentencing was handed down, but two did say they had driven up from South Carolina, where Street lived before coming to Chambersburg.

The scuffle occurred as Johnson sat down in the jury box, but before Walsh entered the room. Johnson said something unintelligible as he entered the courtroom. After Delvin Street jumped the low wooden barrier and was immediately brought down, Johnson said, "Screw you. You're a rat, too."

As Stroble and another deputy held down Delvin Street, a Chambersburg police officer urged the other family members to remain calm. Johnson and Delvin Street both were removed from the courtroom.

Six deputies, Sheriff Dane Anthony, Kelso and Chambersburg Detective William Frisby were present in the courtroom when the sentencing resumed.

Walsh sentenced Johnson to prison "for the period of his natural life" without possibility of parole, the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder. By entering his plea last month, Johnson had avoided the possibility of the death penalty had he gone to trial. The judge also ordered him to pay $11,190.13 in restitution to Street's family and insurers.

Defense attorney Gregory Abeln asked Walsh to consider a recommendation to the Department of Corrections that Johnson be assigned to a state prison in the Philadelphia area, where he has family and a child.

Then it was time for Delvin Street to come back to the courtroom, this time in handcuffs.

"Under the circumstances, the commonwealth would not be prosecuting him for anything," Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah Zook said.

Stroble said Street was contrite and apologized for the disturbance.

"Mr. Street, you're going home. Don't sweat it," Walsh told him. The judge told him of the necessity of maintaining order and decorum in the courtroom and said that, had he been on the bench at the time, Street could have been cited for contempt and jailed.

"Are you ready to go home?" Walsh asked.

"Yes sir," Street said.

Walsh complimented the deputies and police for quickly containing the disturbance and restoring calm.

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