Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He’s accused of killing 16-year-old honor student Phylicia Barnes but prosecutors claim Michael Johnson wanted to run from the law before he could be arrested.
Derek Valcourt has more on the evidence jurors heard Thursday.
As police centered in on Michael Johnson as the prime suspect in the death of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes, they obtained wire taps on his cell phone. Jurors heard some of Johnson’s recorded calls and text messages.
In a text, he told his girlfriend, “I feel like everything is about to hit the fan. I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with it. I feel like I should just pack up some stuff and leave.”
His girlfriend asks, “And go where?”
Johnson replied, “I mean leave this country, babe.”
In another text, Johnson asked his brother, “I wonder if I go there and start a new life there, would they be able to arrest me there?”
Legal experts say evidence the defendant thought about fleeing the country could go either way.
“The prosecution will clearly say this shows that he had a guilty conscience, that he had something to hide. It’s what’s called `flight evidence,’” said Andrew Levy, legal expert.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys spent time attacking the integrity of the police investigation into Barnes’ disappearance and death in December 2010. Specifically, they questioned the credibility of the lead detective in the case, Daniel Nicholson, who remains suspended from his job over allegations he misused police resources when his own daughter briefly went missing.
Prosecutors also introduced evidence from Johnson’s employer to prove he never showed up to work on the day Phylicia Barnes disappeared.