Man charged with murder in connection to Econo Lodge slaying

bpurser@macon.comOctober 21, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Police have charged a man with murder in a shooting death this month at a Watson Boulevard motel.

Stephen Randall Johnson, 25, is being held at the Peach County Law Enforcement Center on a murder charge from Warner Robins police in the Oct. 10 shooting at the Econo Lodge at 12003 Watson Blvd., said Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.

Johnson was arrested Thursday on the murder charge in Byron, according to online Warner Robins police records.

Warner Robins Assistant Police Chief John Wagner declined comment Monday, but he indicated police would release information Tuesday about Johnson’s arrest.

Matthew Allen Garner, 23, of Warner Robins, was found fatally shot about 12:30 a.m. along a second-floor walkway outside the motel room he had rented less than 90 minutes earlier. He was shot multiple times in the chest.

Authorities say at least two other people are involved in the incident that led to Garner’s death.

Kenneth Robert Sharpe, 32, of Jackson, Miss., and Emily Nicole Hooker, 25, of Jefferson, turned up in a 2010 Dodge Charger that was parked outside a Waffle House 179 miles away in Oxford, Ala., a couple of hours after the shooting.

Sharpe had been shot in the stomach and died several hours later at the Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Ala.

Authorities connected Sharpe and Hooker to the shooting at the Econo Lodge in Warner Robins. Hooker was charged by Oxford police with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a pistol without a permit.

Based on witness accounts, Warner Robins police initially said Sharpe and Garner met up at the motel and an ensuing argument escalated into an exchange of gunfire in which both men were shot. Warner Robins police have not disclosed how Johnson fits into the picture.

The incident is believed to have been drug-related, authorities said, and the motive for Garner’s killing may have been a possible robbery attempt.

The Econo Lodge is located within the city limits of Warner Robins but within Peach County, which is why multiple county agencies are involved. The motel has a Byron address.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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