Johnson sentencing today
Published 7:40 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007
By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
The fate of an Atmore man lies in the hands of Escambia County Circuit Court Judge Bradley Byrne. And that fate will be delivered at 1 p.m. today.
Christopher Johnson faces sentencing today after being convicted by a jury for the death of his 6-month-old son, Elias Ocean Johnson.
Two possible sentences in the case are death or life in prison without possibility of parole. A jury made a recommendation of the death sentence following a two and a half day trial in December.
Following testimony by witnesses, including the infant's mother, Dana Johnson, jurors deliberated for less than 30 minutes to return a guilty verdict in the case. After less than 20 minutes in the jury room, the group returned a recommendation that Johnson be sentenced to death for his crime.
During the trial, jurors heard testimony from Johnson saying he was guilty of the crime with which he had been charged.
As Johnson's attorneys, Todd Stearns and Charles Johnson, were preparing to make their closing arguments in the case, the defendant fired the co-counselors saying they misled him about the possible outcome of the case.
During the final minutes of the trial, a tape bearing Johnson's statement on the day of the infant's death, gave information that Johnson did cause life-threatening injuries to the child.
Following Johnson's admission on the witness stand, the jury took less than half an hour to render its guilty verdict.
Prosecuting attorney Reo Kirkland Jr. thanked the jury for their verdict and asked that they recommend the death penalty.
Johnson also addressed the jury prior to the penalty phase of the case.
Although an appeal is typical when guilty verdicts are returned in capital murder cases, Johnson made it a point twice during the closing of the trial that he did not wish the case to be appealed.