Arguments expected Tuesday in trial of Warner Robins man accused of 29-year-old slaying

bpurser@macon.comDecember 2, 2013 

johnson_trial

Timothy Johnson sits with his attorney, Stacy Morris, left, during jury selection Monday. The jury will hear charges stemming from an armed robbery and murder in 1984.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

PERRY -- A Houston County jury has been seated for the trial of a Warner Robins man accused of a 29-year-old slaying, with opening statements expected Tuesday morning.

Timothy Johnson is charged with murder in the September 1984 shooting of 24-year-old Taressa Stanley during a robbery of the Kwickie convenience store at the corner of Wellborn Road and Wall Street in Warner Robins. The wife and mother of three was shot in the neck and died three days later at Houston Medical Center.

During the daylong jury selection process Monday in Houston County Superior Court, potential jurors were asked various questions to determine whether they could be fair and impartial jurors.

Questions included whether they had been crime victims, if they had lived in the area prior to 1984, if they owned a gun and if they would give more weight to the testimony of a police officer than other witnesses. Jurors also were asked if they knew any of the witnesses as they were named by attorneys.

The jury was seated at 6:55 p.m. Monday.

In December 1984, Johnson pleaded guilty to the slaying. It was part of a deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek the death sentence and Johnson agreed not to appeal or seek early release. He was 22.

In 2006, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned his conviction based on a handwritten appeal from Johnson from his Reidsville prison cell where he was serving a life sentence. The Georgia Supreme Court found no record that Johnson had been advised of his right to confront witnesses and to not incriminate himself.

But Johnson, now 51, was quickly reindicted by a Houston grand jury for the slaying. He’s been held at the Houston jail pending trial for the past seven years.

Jurors may not hear anything related to the history of the case during the trial this week before Judge George Nunn.

Much of the evidence has been destroyed, and some of the witnesses have died. Other witnesses cannot be located, but there are still other witnesses from 1984 expected to testify.

The trial may stretch through the week.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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