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    1. #1
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010

      Virginia Teen, Raheem Johnson, Sentenced in 2011 VA Slaying of Timothy Irving

      Prosecutors upgraded charges Monday against two Lynchburg teens accused in an April slaying at the Millwoods apartments, leaving one boy charged with capital murder.

      Raheem Johnson, the alleged triggerman, was indicted on a charge of capital murder, breaking and entering, two counts of attempted robbery and four counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

      Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Felmlee said he will not seek the execution of Johnson, a 17-year-old, because it is barred both by the U.S. Constitution and Virginia law.

      “If convicted of capital murder, he would spend the rest of his life in prison,” Felmlee said in explaining why the charge was upgraded from the original charge of first-degree murder. The severity of the crime was also a factor, he said.

      Johnson is accused of forcing his way into 20-year-old Timothy Irving’s apartment, then shooting him in the head in front of his fiancée and their child.

      Under all but capital murder convictions, inmates who have served at least 10 years of a prison sentence are eligible for release at age 60. Those who have served at least five years may be released at age 65. Thirty inmates have been released under the geriatric parole program since 2002, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

      Capital murder charges require an aggravating factor in the commission of a premeditated murder — in this case, attempted robbery.

      Co-defendant Dennis Watts Jr., 19, was indicted Monday on a count of felony murder, two counts of attempted robbery and three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

      Virginia law allows a defendant to be charged with felony murder when a person dies in the commission of a felony – attempted robbery in this case, Felmlee explained. It is punished as second-degree murder.

      Until Monday, Watts had only been charged with possession of ammunition by a felon.

      At a preliminary hearing last week, ArTenna Horsley-Robey described how Johnson and Watts forced their way into the apartment she shared with Irving and their two-year-old son.

      Horsley-Robey testified she was in bed when the men knocked on the door shortly after midnight on April 11. They followed Irving back to their bedroom, then ordered her out of bed at gunpoint to lie on the ground, she said.

      She said for several minutes the men yelled at Irving to “give it up” before shooting him in the head in front of her and their toddler.

      Lynchburg police Detective Jerry Hise testified Johnson told investigators he went to Irving’s apartment because he owed him some marijuana and he had bought drugs from Irving in the past.

      Watts was found by police at his girlfriend’s apartment in the same complex as Irving’s within an hour of the slaying, Felmlee said at an earlier hearing. He said then that a search of the apartment turned up a bag of bullets and a ski mask.

      Horsley-Robey said she could identify both men in spite of Watts wearing a mask and Johnson having coat and hood pulled up around his face. Johnson’s lawyers have attacked her ability to make the identifications.

      “He still carries the presumption of innocence,” said Leigh Drewry, a second defense attorney appointed Monday morning for Johnson.

      Both men remain jailed without bond. Johnson was transferred to the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center last week under court order. He turns 18 on June 14. Trial dates have not been set.


    2. #2
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Lynchburg man will not face death penalty in homicide

      A Lynchburg man who was just two months shy of his 18th birthday when police say he gunned down a man in the commission of a robbery, will not face a capital murder charge thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling.

      Raheem Johnson, now 19, is set for trial Monday for the April 11, 2011 shooting of Timothy Irving at Irving’s Old Forest Road apartment.

      Before the Supreme Court’s opinion, which came down June 25, Johnson faced a capital charge, though Virginia law stipulates a juvenile cannot face the death penalty.

      The state statute does, however, mandate a life sentence without the possibility of parole if the offender in a capital case is convicted but the death penalty is not appropriate.

      Johnson was 17 at the time of the shooting. He turned 18 years old 64 days later.

      Prosecutors claim Johnson shot the 20-year-old Irving in the head, in front of his fiancée and their young child.

      Johnson’s fiancée testified at a preliminary hearing last year that Irving answered a knock on the door shortly after midnight.

      Johnson and his co-defendant, Dennis Watts, followed Irving back to their room, she said, and continually yelled at Irving to “give it up” before he was shot in the head.

      Johnson faces charges of 1st degree murder, armed burglary, 2 counts of armed robbery and 4 counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.Watts is set for face trial Aug. 20.

      The attempted robbery of Irving was the aggravating factor allowing prosecutors to seek a capital conviction.

      However, the high court, in a 5-4 decision, found statutes requiring juveniles to face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole violate the 8th amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause.

      In the majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan noted state statutes relating to cases in Arkansas and Alabama did not allow for discretion in sentencing 14-year-old defendants to anything but life without parole.

      “State law mandated that each juvenile die in prison even if a judge or jury would have thought that this youth and its attendant characteristics, along with the nature of his crime, made a lesser sentence (for example, life with the possibility of parole) more appropriate.”

      The court held in the 2010 Graham v.Florida case that it is unconstitutional to give a juvenile a life without parole sentence for a non-homicide offense. The 2005 Roper v. Simmons opinion invoked the 8th amendment in disallowing the use of the death penalty against juveniles.

      Roper and Graham, she argued, “establish that children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing,” and cited the Graham opinion that noted a juvenile’s “‘lessened culpability,’ and greater ‘capacity for change.’”

      The court, with Kagan joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, reversed the findings of the Arkansas and Alabama courts.

      Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his dissenting opinion “determining the appropriate sentence for a teenager convicted of murder presents grave and challenging questions of morality and social policy.”

      But, he argued, the court itself does not characterize the punishment of life without parole as unusual, “and that could not plausibly be described as such.”

      Roberts was joined in his dissent by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

      “Put simply, if a 17-year-old is convicted of deliberately murdering an innocent victim, it is not ‘unusual’ for the murderer to receive a mandatory sentence of life without parole. That reality should preclude finding that mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile killers violates the 8th Amendment,” Roberts argued.

      Further, Roberts claimed, the court is straying away from the very “evolving standard” it invokes.

      “There is little doubt about the direction of society’s evolution,” he argued, noting for most of the 20th century, the emphasis was on rehabilitation.

      “But by the 1980’s, outcry against repeat offenders, broad disaffection with the rehabilitative model, and other factors led many legislatures to reduce or eliminate the possibility of parole, imposing longer sentences in order to punish criminals and prevent them from committing more crimes.

      “As judges we have no basis for deciding that progress toward greater decency can move only in the direction of easing sanctions on the guilty.”

      David Bruck, director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse and law professor at Washington and Lee University’s law school, said he didn’t believe the issue to be controversial, as the opinion doesn’t say a juvenile can’t be sentenced to life without parole in a homicide case.

      “The option is still there, after weighing all the facts of the crime and the individual effects,” he said. “It just has to be based on the evidence.”

      To Bruck, the controversy is “whether the Supreme Court should be imprisoned in old ways of thinking,” or whether, as society’s standards evolve, the court’s decisions should reflect the changing standard.

      Bruck said the recent decisions toward taking away the severest punishments for juveniles show a movement away from a “punishment binge” that has spiked in the last few decades and given the United States the largest incarcerated population percentage in the world.

      “Is it an accident that the whole world thinks of us now as Guantanamo?” he said.

      “If Justice Roberts is concerned that the Supreme Court is beginning to concern itself with the excesses of noncapital punishment in this country, he’s probably right and it’s probably about time.”

      Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University’s law school and founder of the Liberty Counsel, said the recent ruling is indicative of a move toward lessening mandatory punishments for juveniles.

      He said though there is debate about whether it’s a good or bad rule to have, this decision shows the court moving away from the text of the Constitution into very subjective grounds.

      “It certainly subjects the court to an allegation of judicial activism,” he said. “There’s really no objective reality to it. There’s no objective nature.

      “You may debate over the wisdom of these laws but the court doesn’t have the prerogative to simply invent the law and have a moving standard.”

      He added a prediction that a lessened mandatory sentence could reduce the amount of plea bargains in homicide cases.

      “That’s a heavy hammer,” he said of life without the possibility of parole, “whereas if you are convicted and you may get or may not get life without parole, that kind of lessens the blow of the hammer.”

      Bruck said he saw the court’s decision as “the lightest touch on the brakes” from the recent heavy-handedness in criminal punishment issues.

      “It seems like 1st degree murder with a possible life without parole sentence seems like gracious plenty for a fifteen year old or sixteen year old or 17 year old.”

      (source: the News & Advance)
      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    3. #3
      Rob's Avatar
      Join Date
      Nov 2010
      Far away from you...
      I don't know if this will add anything to the thread, but when the page loaded and that pic at the top jumped out at me, I nearly spat my coffee. Having said that, too bad his crimes didn't come a few months later. Better yet, not at all. I just hope that he receives the maximum allowable and will not be free to walk the streets again.

    4. #4
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Raheem Johnson Gets Life Sentence for Lynchburg Murder

      19-year-old Raheem Johnson will spend life in prison for a murder at the Mill Woods Apartments in Lynchburg.

      A judge sentenced Johnson to life plus 42 years in prison for the murder of Timothy Irving.

      In April 2011, Johnson and Dennis Watts busted into the apartment and shot Irving.

      Watts has not been sentenced.

      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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