The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LO­CAL­NEWS -

Dur­ing a hear­ing on Fri­day, An­dre Johnson al­leged his state­ment to de­tec­tives was not vol­un­tary and was co­erced.

“Did you feel you were free to leave? Did you feel you had a choice?” de­fense lawyer Bren­dan M. Camp­bell asked An­dre Johnson dur­ing the hear­ing.

“No,” Johnson replied to both ques­tions, adding he felt “scared, pow­er­less and a lit­tle ner­vous” while be­ing ques­tioned by de­tec­tives.

Camp­bell ar­gued to the judge, “This was a prod­uct of il­le­gal de­ten­tion. He’s never told that he’s free to leave.”

But As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney James E. Price II ar­gued An­dre Johnson’s state­ment was “en­tirely vol­un­tary.”

County De­tec­tive Todd Richard tes­ti­fied An­dre Johnson vol­un­tar­ily agreed to come to the county de­tec­tive bureau to be ques­tioned, was not hand­cuffed, was not in cus­tody, never asked for a lawyer and even signed a waiver of rights form in­di­cat­ing he vol­un­tar­ily gave the state­ment.

“He was told about his rights. He vol­un­tar­ily gave the state­ment,” ar­gued Price, who is be­ing as­sisted at trial by co-prose­cu­tor Sa­man­tha L. Thomp­son.

Dur­ing a break in the hear­ing, when the judge was not in the court­room, An­dre Johnson, still in the wit­ness box, locked eyes with the vic­tim’s rel­a­tives who were in court and wore me­mo­rial t-shirts em­bossed with Desmond Johnson’s photo and the words “#LIVE4DESMOND.” At one point, An­dre Johnson smiled and chuck­led in re­sponse to the spec­ta­tors’ glares.

“He’s up there laugh­ing. What are you laugh­ing at?” one fe­male spec­ta­tor ut­tered to An­dre Johnson be­fore the hear­ing re­sumed.

Johnson ap­peared to laugh again later when a mem­ber of the vic­tim’s fam­ily ver­bally lashed out at him as he was es­corted from the court­room.

In ad­di­tion to deny­ing An­dre Johnson’s re­quest to toss his state­ment, the judge set his trial for Feb. 22, 2019.

An­dre Johnson is charged with first-, sec­ond- and third-de­gree mur­der, possession of a pro­hib­ited firearm, firearms not to be car­ried with­out a li­cense, crim­i­nal use of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­ity and rob­bery in con­nec­tion with the slay­ing.

If con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der, which is an in­ten­tional killing, An­dre Johnson faces life im­pris­on­ment.

Sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, a killing com­mit­ted dur­ing the course of an­other felony, such as rob­bery, also car­ries a manda­tory term of life im­pris­on­ment upon con­vic­tion. A con­vic­tion of third-de­gree mur­der, a killing com­mit­ted with mal­ice, car­ries a pos­si­ble max­i­mum sen­tence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

The de­fen­dant and the vic­tim are not re­lated, of­fi­cials said.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan at 11:52 p.m. June 16 when Nor­ris­town po­lice re­sponded to re­ports of gun­shots on Car­son Al­ley, in the area be­hind the 300 block of East Penn Street, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint. About 30 min­utes later, at 12:22 a.m. June 17 po­lice re­sponded to the 300 block of Car­son Al­ley for a re­port of the dis­cov­ery of a body.

Of­fi­cers found Desmond Johnson, of Nor­ris­town, ly­ing on his right side, dead from an ap­par­ent gun­shot wound, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by county De­tec­tive James Reape and Nor­ris­town De­tec­tive Charles Leeds.

A sub­se­quent au­topsy de­ter­mined the vic­tim died from a gun­shot wound to the chest and the man­ner of death was listed as homi­cide. Au­thor­i­ties said they found three plas­tic bags of sus­pected mar­i­juana in the vic­tim’s pants pocket.

De­tec­tives re­cov­ered a .40-cal­iber Smith & Wes­son fired bul­let cas­ing in Car­son Al­ley about 160-feet from the vic­tim’s fi­nal rest­ing place.

“A trail of blood led from the area of the cas­ing to Desmond Johnson,” Reape and Leeds wrote in the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­tec­tives ob­tained video sur­veil­lance from var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in the area and also re­cov­ered the vic­tim’s cell­phone, court doc­u­ments in­di­cate.

A re­view of text mes­sage com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the vic­tim’s cell­phone re­vealed An­dre Johnson used the phone of an­other Nor­ris­town man “to ar­range a meet­ing with Desmond Johnson un­der the ruse of pur­chas­ing mar­i­juana,” ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

The man whose phone An­dre Johnson was us­ing to ar­range the meet­ing told de­tec­tives that Johnson told him he wanted to “jam him,” mean­ing rob Desmond Johnson, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

“The video sur­veil­lance and time­line pre­sented by (An­dre Johnson) is consistent with hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to com­mit the rob­bery.

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