A Baton Rouge, Louisiana man, Brandon Johnson was convicted of second degree murder at a Martin Luther King Day parade. But was he guilty?
another Midnite Cowboy page
Well to be honest with you, I had not followed up on the trial and the events leading to it. A few weeks before the murder, Tiffany Binkley, my cousin was run over by a truck at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade. I was kinda preoccupied with her survival, her hospital stay here in town, and building a wheel chair ramp at her house in Monroe. I briefly watched the television news footage at the murder scene, and felt for the wounded children and the family of both the victim and the accused. Like many of you when I saw the accused being taken away, I felt he was guilty.
I hadn't thought much about it at all until I had a conversation with one of the jury members. I want to keep this anonymous so I will just call him Mr. Doe. What Mr. Doe said frightened me and it should scare you into opening your eyes to the fallacy of the American justice system. A system that could easily accuse you of murder in the first degree.
Here are some quotes from one of the 12 men and women that sentenced in my opinion and innocent 20 year old man to Angola Penitentiary for the rest of his life.
"I didn't like the way he dressed for the trial. He was too dressed up. He was wearing a suit and he looked so neat. I felt like it was a bit put on. He was such a put on." (Well would it have been better if he was wearing the gang colors to trial for murder. Maybe some Harley Davidson leathers.) (Maybe the next time I have to go to traffic court, I will wear my cowboy hat and my biv overalls, my Oskosh Bygosh. Maybe on the way up to the stand, I will just spit some Beachnut in the arresting officer's eye and say, I wasn't driving 78 like you testified, I was going 87. Well, Hoot I have been in court a few times as a minor witness. I had to search around the back closets to find a too snug suit and tie that I know will choke me. I think it is rather expected when you play the court game.)
"I didn't like the way he looked into the face of the jury."
"He acted too much like he had been coached by the attorney, Ossie Brown." (Well I have coached a baseball team for many years. I never have gotten paid for it. I wonder how much Ossie Brown makes for one entire case. I wonder how much he coaches his defendants and witnesses so he can keep making this income. I wonder how much coaching prosecutors Tony Clayton and Kurt Wall did with their witnesses so they can continue making a living and maybe one day get elected to some powerful political office. Maybe they don't call it coaching, maybe they call it advising so they want be violating the oath. When I coached baseball, I garontee you that I coached and advised those players on every aspect of playing their best just for the reward of winning and of pride. According to the oath, a defendant or a witness is not supposed to be coached. However, show me one lawyer that honestly does not coach a defendant and I will show you an unemployed attorney who never will win a case. Maybe they even visited this web site to learn how to be a witness.)
"He had 6 eyewitnesses who said he did not do the shooting, but I didn't believe them because they were sitting in the van that was too far away. These witnesses were friends and family members."
"I believed the eye witnesses that were nearest the scene."( Let me say that most of these eyewitnesses were fellow gang members with Brandon Johnson, and that one of these eyewitnesses was accused by Brandon Johnson of an earlier gang drug murder. However, Judge Daniel refused to bring charges because he felt the murder was self defense.)
(I would love to have been on the other side of the two way mirror to have seen that interrogation. Can you imagine this? Detective Sipowitz slapping Jermaine "Ugly Man" Johnson, up side the head. "Now listen here Ugly Man, we got you for 20 years on that ton of crack cocaine we found in your room. We may get the judge to reopen that investigation on you shooting that crack dealer a while back. Right now my partners Bobby, Dianne, Metavoy, and Martinez have your three thug gang members spilling their guts out probably naming you as the shooter in this Martin Luther King Parade. Well I think you gonna get the needle on this one. Now you better cooperate. Who pulled the trigger? Was it Brandon Johnson? Write it."
(I remember the day Tiffany got run over by a truck at the parade. I was standing right behind her. The last thing I remember seeing in all that panic was the red pick up truck starting to pass the stalled 18 wheeler in the crowd of hundreds of Mardi Gras revelers. The truck was out of control because the driver was asleep. I know there were people screaming. I didn't hear them. I know that the cop that was standing right between Tiffany and I jumped onto the hood of the truck to avoid being run over. I did not even see that. The next thing I remember I moved over 2 feet so the truck would miss me and I saw the truck hit a tree. I told the investigating police officer that I saw the truck hit a tree. The officer sitting across the hospital waiting room did not even flinch. He kept writing on the tablet, just taking notes. The truck actually hit a brick wall that was in front of the monument that is on the corner of Government and 3rd Street. To this day there is a paint mark on the side walk there with the words left rear painted by it. It means this was the final resting place of the left rear tire. You can see on the wall where the front of the truck hit the wall. In a panic, in a crowd or even not in a crowd, one cannot depend on what they see or what their memory tells them they saw.)
Back to quotes by juror John Doe
"They never did find the gun, but that didn't bother us?" (I guess we can rule out the ballistics test.)
" Well the flourinsic test for gunpowder on Brandon Johnson's hands was negative, but I felt like he must have washed his hands." ( Can you wash gunpowder residue off with soap and water? If Monica Lewinski didn't wash a dress....) ( All you future murderers go wash your hands before the cops come to arrest you.)
"Well the the shirt Brandon was wearing didn't have any blood stains on it, but it didn't arrive for a long time and when it got there it was too clean and it smelled like perfume, It was real strong with perfume." (Who keeps the shirts and other evidence from a murder scene? Why would the shirt smell like perfume? Mr. Doe gave me the impression that he felt that Ossie Brown was responsible for the clean shirt and the perfume smell.)
"There was one juror that didn't believe that Brandon did the shooting. He was an engineer (sneer). He kept voting not guilty and we kept arguing over it for 18 hours. He wanted to see everything over and over. He had to see drawings, maps and all that kind of stuff. Finally he changed his mind because a drawing of the way the bullet entered the body."
" I don't feel like the prosecutor presented enough evidence for capital murder in the first degree. So he did not get the death penalty." (Well let me make this clear. The way the prosecutors put the story together is something like this. This group of black gang members, boys/men, came to the Martin Luther King parade with guns or at least a gun and surrounded James "J.B." Carter, an enemy, maybe a drug drug dealer who had made a bad deal with the gang for all I know. They surrounded him and one of them fired 5 shots into Carter at close range. Are you trying to tell me, just a humble country redneck, that this wasn't premeditated or planned out. Oh it just happened.)
Well I argued these same points with the juror John Doe, and he said, "I just felt like he was guilty. It was just a gut feeling:" This kind of reminds me of referee calls in the NFL Football. You know that even the referees in little league football receive much more training than jurors in a murder trial.
In summary I think that Brandon Johnson may have made a few unwise decisions in his life. Apparently he dropped out of Southern University's criminology program to become a gang member. That was a mistake. So he was at the scene of the murder. If the murder wasn't planned, maybe he was in shock as one of the other gang members, maybe a the one Johnson had identified as a shooter in an earlier murder. Maybe Jermaine "Ugly Man" Johnson, pulled the trigger 5 times.
This "Ugly Man" and the other gang members were the eyewitnesses who testified at Brandon Johnsons trial that they saw Brandon Johnson shoot Carter at the King Day Parade. The conviction of Brandon Johnson rested solely on that one piece of evidence. They never found the gun. There was no victims blood on the shirt worn by Brandon Johnson. There were no powder burns on Brandon's hands. Well, Hoot, they had more evidence than this on O.J. Simpson and he is still at the country club golfing.
As I said the American Criminal Justice System is a joke. A game played by judges and lawyers for lots of money. Kinda like professional football players salaries. They go pick out jurors they think will sit idle and watch the game being played without knowing much at all about the rules. Just watching the show and going with gut feelings or trying to judge a man or woman by the way he looks them in the eye. I recall an LSU professor who was turned down by the prosecutors on another less publicized murder trial, because (and I am quoting here, "Teachers don't make good jurors because they think too much." I bet the engineer in the Brandon Johnson murder jury was one of the defending attorney choices.
What can we do here to get the justice system on track. For one thing we need to stop the death penalty so more and more innocent men and women are not executed as the game goes on. For another thing LSU and other universities and colleges around the state and around the country should be offering a class for jury duty. Kinda a crash course on how to play the court game. Every prospective juror should be required to attend this class and pass it with a grade. They should be taught how to consider that eyewitness accounts are not always exactly the way things happened in real time. They should be taught the importance of the modern evidence such as the DNA and others.They should learn some of the tactics of objections, eye contact and some of the other aspects that lawyers learn and coach to their witnesses. In addition each juror should be forced to watch 10 hours of NYPD Blue and Law and Order. Furthermore, the practice of taking an oath to swear to tell the truth should be deleted. It just does not happen. So I guess everyone who takes this oath, so help me God, is just going strait to Hell.
One of the most common misconceptions of jury members it that the police must have had a good case or the district attorney would not prosecute. Most murder cases that go to court end up in convictions. The truth of the matter is that the police do not always do a good job of solving the crime. They are more interested in pleasing the bosses and the media by solving the crime quickly. And I will always wonder if the gloves, the blood stains at the scene were not planted by the police just to solve the murder and pin it on O. J. Simpson. If it don't fit you must acquit.
Well here are some quotes from the Advocate Newspaper.
"During the trial, Johnsons lawyers accused city police of a "rush to judgment" in arresting Johnson 12 hours after the shooting.
Wall said the verdict should restore faith in police.
"They did a thorough investigation, and they arrested the right man," Wall said.
And here, Hoot is the motive for the prosecutors in presenting this trial in such a rush in their own words
Prosecutors Tony Clayton and Kurt Wall both said the verdict pleased them, despite the fact the jury did not have to consider the death penalty.
"I hope this sends shock waves to anybody that wants to bring a loaded weapon to a parade," Clayton said.
Hoot, I guess you heard my story. Oh one last thing. I would like to know what evidence the jury was denied to see. It probably would not have made any difference, because the jury seems to have ignored the lack of evidence they had to convict.Maybe the prosecutors will let Brandon rot in jail for a crime he did not commit for maybe 8 or 20 years and the evidence will leak out. I wonder why in the world anyone would even think about believing the eyewitnesses in this case. Hoot, we can't let this go on. We have to do something. You or me could be next. Accused for a crime we had nothing at all to do with maybe murdering a small child.
In all reality, I do not think that I am overly concerned about the death penalty or about men or women in prison, or even about Brandon Johnson, personally. In honesty I feel like I am being called upon form God or some supreme being to reveal some of the injustice men and women do to other men and women in the name of God.
I went to a Clint Eastwood movie, "Ture Crime," just a few days after I finished this webpage. In the movie Eastwood played a reporter in search of the truth in murder cases. The reporter was very much like me. I want to know the truth. What really did happen at the Martin Luther King Parade? Who pulled the trigger? Who should be in jail?
In the 1900's my great grandfather, Henry Waller was framed for a murder of a family near Spring Hill, Louisiana. Henry Waller was a gambler and he was half Choctaw Indian. During that time Indians were considered and inferior race and underwent some racial discrimination much like the blacks in Louisiana, the South, and in other parts of the country still go through today.
Well a white family was murdered with an ax about 20 miles away from the small country community where Waller lived. Three black men were caught near the scene and were lynched to a tree on the spot. These three men said that Henry Waller was with them during the murder. The family owed Waller some money over a gambling debt.
Eyewitnesses stated that they saw Waller near his house at the time of the murder and a check of all the horses in town revealed that none of the horses had any sweat or showed any evidence of making the 20 mile trip.
Even so, Waller was convicted of murder based solely on the statements of the three men who were trying to avoid the rope of an angry lynch mob. He was sentenced to life at Angola where he died of mysterious circumstances. The records state only that he had pneumonia.
My grandfather never talked about his daddy at all. He was raised by his wealthy aunt Vee and he took her name, White. You will enjoy reading about this gambler, logger, and ladies man in the Life and Times of Roddy White, my Grandfather.
Another innocent man bites the dust, the Kawatta Bosby Murder Trials
gun control, a humorous satire
Take a bite out of crime, take the crime out of drugs. I may add that the Martin Luther King Parade murder, this trial, and this webpage would never have happened if drugs were legal.
Tiffany Binkley Ran Over at Baton Rouge Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade
Don Binkley shot and killed while deer hunting in Tensas Parish Louisiana
An index to all The Midnite Cowboys pages to make you laugh and cry, or in this case sit and think.
You want to read more about Sipowitz and NYPD Blue
If you read this page, please take the time to email me to let me know what you think.
Baton Rouge Advocate news story about Brandon
The national coalition against the death penalty.