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Friday, 30 October 2009

Billy Joe Johnson should be sentenced to death, a jury recommended Thursday.

Billy Joe Johnson, 46,was convicted of murder for luring his childhood friend, Scott Miller, to his death on March 8, 2002, months after Miller gave what he thought was an anonymous interview on Fox11 News about the gang. Miller was gunned down outside an Anaheim apartment complex after he left a party. killed a fellow white supremacist gang member for revealing secrets about the gang should be sentenced to death, a jury recommended Thursday. A judge will decide whether to accept the jury's recommendation. Johnson is already serving a life term for the 2004 slaying of Cory Lamons in Huntington Beach with a claw hammer. Johnson, with his Mohawk-style hair combed down, smiled, chuckled and whispered to his attorney, Michael Molfetta, when the verdict was read. Johnson testified Tuesday that he wanted to be sent to Death Row because he believed it would be a less-restrictive confinement. The four women and eight men on the jury took about two-and-a-half hours to decide Johnson deserves the ultimate punishment, jury foreman John Pearson of Santa Ana said. The jury first voted 11-1 for death, with the holdout saying if Johnson wanted to be put on death row, why give it to him? After the jury went over the evidence again, they convinced the juror to change his mind, Pearson said. Molfetta argued that Johnson's life in prison, dependency on drugs and a rough childhood in Costa Mesa contributed to his downfall. But Pearson said the jury felt Johnson's lengthy rap sheet outweighed all that.
Johnson, when he took the stand Tuesday, admitted to killing two other men, one while in custody and another while free. Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said authorities might be interested in learning more about those slayings so they can close the books on them, but there's "zero chance" he would be prosecuted for them since he will probably be sentenced to death. "I felt he was self-absorbed" and didn't respect the judicial process, Pearson said. "I don't think he cared personally one way or the other." Johnson, throughout the trial, often leaned in to Molfetta to whisper asides and laugh. Molfetta said Johnson has attention-deficit disorder and that he tried to go along with some of the antics to keep him as calm as possible even though he found it difficult to concentrate.

"Trust me, I know who is sitting alongside me," he said, acknowledging Johnson's violent past.

Johnson was pleased with the verdict and told his attorney to not get emotional, Molfetta said. "I told him I was going to get misty eyed and he told me not to," Molfetta said. "I said, `Doesn't this bother you?' And he said, `No, 20 years ago it might have but I've hardened over the years ...' He wants to go to Death Row. Billy Joe Johnson does not care. I've met many over the years who have said that, but he genuinely doesn't care." When Molfetta asked Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel to have the jury polled after the verdict was read, Johnson asked him why he bothered. "I told him once I did that and someone changed their mind and he said, `Jesus, that person's crazier than I am.' "I told him I didn't think that was true," Molfetta added. Another gang member, Michael Allen Lamb, 34, was sentenced to death for killing Miller Aug. 22, 2008. Also convicted of Miller's murder was Jacob Anthony Rump, 32, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole Oct. 5, 2007.
Prosecutors argued that Lamb delivered the fatal shot to the back of the head of the 38-year-old Miller, who was a founding member of Public Enemy Number One.
Prosecutors said Miller, known as "Scottish," was killed because he aired the gang's dirty laundry in a two-part news report. The piece, broadcast on Feb. 20-21, 2001, focused on the evolution of the gang -- which grew out of the 1980s punk rock music scene in Long Beach, then evolved to racist skinheads to criminal thugs, authorities said. Miller, though his face was obscured, was recognized by gang members in the TV appearance because of a tattoo and his pet pit bull. Johnson may never have been prosecuted for the killing if he had not chosen to testify in the murder trials of Rump and Lamb. In that case two years ago, Johnson testified he was the shooter.
But according to Baytieh, Johnson's role was luring Miller to his death by asking him to join him on a ride to Anaheim to buy drugs. Johnson was found guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact, with sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member causing death, and special circumstance allegations of murder by lying in wait and murder committed for a criminal street gang. Fasel will formally sentence Johnson Nov. 20.


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