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By: 130. court proceedings | Date: Mar 17, 2010 |
Tuesday March 16, 2010. It started with Tisha Smith, the police officer whose rear passenger car window was shot out when she and her partner, Officer Bestpitch were stopped at a light in Elk Grove the night of March 25, 2006. It was Tisha's birthday today, acknowledged by the DA Scott Triplett, when he started his questions (continued from the day before). She was shown evidence numbered "people's 21" and also numbered "people's 271". So in the last four years there have been at least 271 pieces of evidence collected for this trial. It is amazing what people remember today versus four years ago. Many have recorded testimony in interviews or with "PCRs" (Patient Care Reports), and they are allowed to refer to these written reports as necessary. The jury needs to hear what really happened that night. Tisha provided detail about the shooter chasing her partner around the police car (twice) to try to get a shot at her, before she and her partner finally took him down. Her gun holds nine shots, and at the end of the day, she only had two left. The shooter was down and she and her partner were safe. That does not mean they were not affected. Tisha seemed nervous to this day, and teared up when she was listening to her own voice on 911 calls. The Trauma Doctor at UC Davis Medical Center Lynette Scherer was called to provide an assessment of Mike's condition that week. She provided the jury with great detail about the devastation of his injuries and the final declaration of his death on March 30, 2006. The jury was riveted. Then came Mindy Tucker, who was an off duty police officer from Oregon visiting Elk Grove at the time, driving with her mom and other family members to a restaurant that night. She was driving behind the defendant's white car, saw the crash with the truck, and saw the shooter get out of the car, grab the shotgun, fire it, and run behind some buildings. In an instant, she made the decision to drive to the back of the parking lot to "see what he was doing", and stopped when she saw him, standing there with the shotgun in his hands. She made eye contact with him, he started to raise the shotgun at her, and she "gunned" it to get out of there, making a 911 call as she drove away. She also started to cry when she heard her own voice on the 911 call played for the jury. She positively identified the shooter and stayed strong during a nasty cross-examination by the defense attorneys. Three EMT’s and one detective were called to attest to timings of the patients and witnesses in their care that night, and finally Kimberly Henry took the stand. She is the manager of a Yuba City sporting goods store - and has been for the last ten years. She testified for fifteen minutes about the sale of a Winchester 12 gauge pump-action shotgun to a Yuba City resident in 2003 (this was a friend of the defendant) . They went through every detail of the sale report to identify the shotgun's serial number. This is the weapon used the night of the killings. No court proceedings will take place Wednesday.

By: 129.court proceedings | Date: Mar 16, 2010 |
A really long day in court today. Karen Johnson(the wife of Jon Johnson who was the second victim in the shootings) gave her testimony this morning. She was outstanding, just like Roberta and Mo from the day before.. She kept her cool and described the event Then they showed the Mandango restaurant security camera video which shows she and her husband leaving the restaurant, and then Karen running back into the restaurant. looking for help. In her testimony she said she actually saw the shooter (after he had shot her husband) and she positively identified him for the jurors. She was getting out of the car and he heard her and looked directly at her before she ran back into the restaurant…. That was pretty powerful. There were no questions from the defense attorneys. Another woman was called - Christina Nichols. She was in a car by herself behind the suspect’s car about the time he fired at the moving police car. She watched him swerve through traffic. She saw the crash happen in front of her, then stopped, saw someone get out of the car and "do something" with a shotgun, but she didn't really see the shooter until he was right in front of her with the shotgun raised aiming at her, about 40 feet away. This must have happened after he took a shot at Adam Wheeler, the passenger in the car Stephanie Cartwright was driving. Christina did not want to be on the witness stand. She was very nervous, moving back and forth, very jumpy, almost sounding defensive in her testimony. She said she looked right at the defendant, and then punched the gas pedal swerving around him to get out of there. She positively identified him sitting in the courtroom. That was a good thing. She was cross-examined but pretty much held her ground. Several other witnesses were called (most of them eating dinner at Mandangos), and we ended the day with beginning testimony from the female police officer who he tried to shoot before crashing into the truck. Scott Tripplet, the district attorney, did an incredible job, and believes that he is about half way through with his presentation of the prosecution today. He has many police officers, detectives and investigators coming up as witnesses, so now he will get into the technical parts of the evidence.

By: 128. court proceedings | Date: Mar 16, 2010 |
March 16, 2010. Opening statements in the trial for the murder of Mike and Jon Johnson (and eight attempted murders) started this past Tuesday March 10th in Sacramento. Scott Triplett, the prosecutor, took an hour and a half to lay out the minute-by-minute details of the night of March 25, 2006, when the killing rampage took place. He was methodical, professional, and riveting. The jurors took extensive notes, and some were crying as he walked through what happened. The defense attorneys took less than 10 minutes to state their case, admitting the defendant was guilty, but stressing that they should keep an open mind about second degree murder. Now we spend the next two months watching the DA prove that this was a pre-meditated event. According to Scott the evidence is overwhelming in this case, but it will take him three weeks to present it. Then the defense will call their witnesses - there are only four on his side (and two of those are already on Scott's witness list for the prosecution). And then finally the jury will deliberate. Everyone involved believes the deliberation will not take long. As soon as the guilt phase of the trial is over, they will take a few days break and return with the same jury for the penalty phase. At this time, anyone who wants to speak about the impact these deaths have had on their lives is welcome to address the court. Then the jury will decide the penalty. This is a capital murder trial with special circumstances (two murders and attempted murders of police officers) so the decision will be between the death penalty and life without possibility of parole. By about the end of April this could be over.

This week, Roberta, Mike’s widow, and Mo, his sister, testified. Both did an outstanding job. The jury was clearly moved by their description of what happened that night with many of them crying or tearing up during the testimony. Mike’s sister Diane, his brother Dave and his wife Kristine and many friends of Roberta and the family were in the courtroom for support. Roberta has now returned to Rome, satisfied and relieved that this is finally coming to an end. She was very brave to face the defendant (and showed us all how strong she is. Wednesday and Thursday many police officers, EMT’s, Paramedics, CSI’s, and detectives have been called. Each of them has been providing testimony to verify times and their activities during the first shooting. So far this week we have heard lots of witnesses, and three have actually identified the defendant as the shooter, but we have seen no real evidence yet. This week and next Scott is just laying the foundation for the case. Two compelling witnesses were Stephanie Cartwright who was driving her car with her boyfriend Adam in the passenger seat that night, on their way to a party. They stopped at a light, and to their right saw a man moving at a high rate of speed hanging out of the driver side window holding a shotgun in his hands. They saw him shoot at a police car waiting at the light in front of them. As he did that he crashed into a truck in front of him, dropped the shotgun on the roadway, got out of the car, picked up the gun, stood in front of their car, raised the shotgun, looked directly at her, then moved the shotgun to the passenger side and took a shot at Adam. It shattered the windshield, and some glass went in his eye. They jammed on the gas and drove away. Stephanie was the first person to positively identify the defendant. She was brave; she looked right at him, pointed to him and said "That's the man". The second witness was the last of the week, Jim Williams. He was outside Mandango’s restaurant where the Jon Johnson was killed that night. When he got on the witness stand and was asked the first question - Do you remember what you were doing on the night of March 25th, 2006? - he started to cry. It took him several minutes to compose himself, and by that time several jurors were crying and he hadn't said a word yet. So...as he was standing outside the restaurant, he opened the door for the Johnson’s as they exited the restaurant and watched them walk to their car. Then he saw a man running with a shotgun in his hands in their direction. He lost sight of him, but heard a loud bang, and then saw Karen Johnson running back into the restaurant yelling "he shot my man, he shot my man". When he saw Mr. Johnson he was unrecognizable. They actually have a video tape from the security camera outside the restaurant that shows some of this (not the murder) that we will see on Monday when court re-opens. There are no Friday court sessions.

By: 127. The Sacramento Bee | Date: Mar 12, 2010 |
Sacramento Bee March 12, 2010

Aaron Norman Dunn all but did a victory dance
after the second killing, one witness testified.

By Andy Furillo
Published: Friday, Mar. 12, 2010

Jim Williams opened the door of the restaurant for
Jon Johnson and his wife, Karen, on their way
out of Mandango's four years ago, just before a wild-eyed
man with a shotgun walked into their world and shattered it.

Williams, smoking a cigarette in front of the Elk Grove
restaurant, wondered why somebody would be out on the
town with a shotgun in hand. Then he lost sight of the Johnsons,
right when a shotgun blast exploded the peace of the early
Saturday evening.

When he ran over to see what happened, Williams saw Johnson
down on the parking lot asphalt, his face "unrecognizable"
from the shotgun blast, while the slain man's wife ran back
toward the restaurant.

"She was in shock, and screaming, 'He shot my man! He shot
my man!" Williams testified Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court.

As he called 911, Williams saw the gunman – identified by police
and prosecutors as Aaron Norman Dunn – all but do a victory
dance on his way into the street, where Elk Grove police finally
stopped him with several gunshots to the chest.

"He was walking with his arms in the air as if he just had a big victory …
like he won a big game, very proud of what he did," Williams said.

Dunn, 33, could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree
murder for the deaths of the 46-year-old Johnson as well as
Michael John Daly, 45, in his trial before Judge Michael W. Sweet.
Dunn also is accused of eight counts of attempted murder in the
March 25, 2006, Laguna Boulevard rampage.

Defense lawyers concede that Dunn shot and killed Johnson
and Daly, but they say he was "delusional" under the influence
of methamphetamine in an episode of violence brought on by his
wife's decision to leave him.

In a day of gripping testimony, jurors' heads swiveled back and
forth as if they were watching a tennis match. First came the
questions from Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett and then
the answers from five people whose ordinary night out with family
and friends turned into shock and horror as they watched Dunn's
spree unfold.

Vincent Marconi, an east Sacramento mechanic, had just finished
a blind date and was driving east on Laguna when he saw Dunn's
white Toyota Cressida speeding ahead of him. He said he saw it
swerve to the right near Chili's Bar and Grill – where Daly was
shot and killed, less than a mile from where Johnson was slain –
and crash into a truck at the Laguna Springs Drive stoplight.

Marconi got out of his car to offer help and was approaching the
responding police when he saw Dunn walking toward them.
The defendant still had the shotgun, after he had circled through
the parking lot in front of Mandango's.

"Both officers pulled their weapons," Marconi said. "I was in the
wrong spot."

Marconi said he ducked for cover, but Dunn got behind him and
shot him in the back. The blast raked him with shotgun pellets,
but did not cause any serious physical damage.

"It felt like I got hit with a tree branch," Marconi said.

Marconi said he still remembers the look in Dunn's eyes.

"They were wild," he testified. "Very open. Very excited, or frightened.
His eyes were wide open."

Adam Wheeler was out on a date with his then-girlfriend and
current fiancée Stephanie Cartwright. The couple were also
headed east on Laguna Boulevard, and Wheeler testified that
he saw Dunn hang out of his car with a shotgun and open fire
on a police car, breaking out its rear window.

Almost at the same time, Wheeler said, the gunman rear-ended
a truck. Then, the witness said, Dunn dropped his weapon,
got out of his disabled car, picked up the gun – and pointed it
at Wheeler.

"I grabbed Stephanie's head and pulled it down, and the shot
goes off, and I told her to punch it and take off," Wheeler said.

The blast spider-webbed their windshield and sent a shard
of glass into Wheeler's cornea.

Meanwhile, Michael Alan Roper and his daughter had just
finished eating at a McDonald's. Roper said he was putting
his daughter in the back seat when "I saw somebody run
behind me with a shotgun."

Roper testified that he saw police near the spot where
Dunn crashed into the truck. When he walked over to tell
them what he'd seen, Roper said one of the officers opened fire.
The officer told Roper to get down, so he grabbed his daughter
and ran around the corner of a building. He said he lay on
top of her until the chaos subsided.

"I remember smelling the gunpowder," Roper said.

By: 126. CBS13 | Date: Mar 9, 2010 |
You can read about today's first day of the trial and watch news footage of the same at the link below.
Channel 13 Sacramento



By: 125. Rachel | Date: Mar 9, 2010 |
Thinking of you and wishing Roberta strength on this day.

By: 124. tdaly | Date: Mar 7, 2010 |
Four years to the month of Mike’s murder, twelve jurors were finally chosen on Thursday March 4th. Four alternates need to be chosen Monday March 8th. Opening statements could begin Tuesday or Wednesday. Roberta is the first witness on the stand. She can return to Rome immediately after her testimony. The District Attorney’s best guess is that this trial will take 6-8 weeks for the guilt phase; then one week off before the penalty phase starts (which could take one to two weeks). This is all tentative. There won't be any proceedings the last week of March. And there are no court sessions on Fridays. One week at a time.

By: 123. Patrick Bradley | Date: Mar 2, 2010 |
Thanks Mike. I'll play your music often.

By: 122. Jeff Gelerter | Date: Feb 22, 2010 |
Just thinking of you today Mike....

By: 121. Scott Barrett Dyer | Date: Feb 11, 2010 |
Picking out music for my wedding...no doubt Mike will be on the play list. Mike and I worked together at Conterm in NY/NJ. In fact, I begged him to transition from client to colleague. I cant say enough about how he touched me. Many nights we hung out, talked and listened to music. His antics, humor, smile and passion for life helped me see life in a way I have not since. I miss you my b, c, g.....word.

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