Man charged with murder in Econo Lodge shooting has prior felonies

bpurser@macon.comOctober 22, 2013 

Stephen Johnson

WARNER ROBINS -- A man charged with murder in connection with the Econo Lodge shooting in which two people died has several prior felony convictions.

Stephen Randall Johnson, 25, was convicted of aggravated assault in 2009 and had several other felony convictions from 2007, according to state Department of Corrections records. All of them were in Houston County. The other convictions included robbery by force, simple battery, false imprisonment, false statements to authorities, theft by taking, burglary and possession of a knife during a crime.

He was in prison from March 2009 to July 2012 and uses the aliases of Randall Owens and Sam Owens.

Warner Robins police charged Johnson with murder Thursday. He is being held at the Peach County Law Enforcement Center in connection with the shooting Oct. 10 at the Econo Lodge at 12003 Watson Blvd., Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said.

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.

Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police, said Tuesday that Johnson and Garner were acquaintances.

Another man, Kenneth Robert Sharpe, 32, of Jackson, Miss., is suspected of fatally shooting Garner in a drug-related armed robbery, Pugh said. Police have not disclosed how they think Johnson was allegedly involved.

Authorities connected Sharpe and Emily Nicole Hooker, 25, of Jefferson, to the shooting after both 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.

Oxford police charged Hooker with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a pistol without a permit.

Based on witness accounts, Warner Robins police say Sharpe and Garner met at the motel and an ensuing argument escalated into an exchange of gunfire -- wounding both men.

Multiple agencies are involved because the Econo Lodge is located within the city limits of Warner Robins but also within Peach County. It has a Byron mailing address.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service