BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Halfway through Michael Johnson’s third murder trial, his attorneys are trying to force a final ruling.
Johnson is on trial for the murder of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes, an honor student from North Carolina who vanished in 2010 while visiting family in Baltimore. Her body was found months later.
Barnes was visiting her half-sisters in Baltimore when she disappeared just after Christmas. A desperate man hunt turned up nothing, until months later when her body surfaced in the Susquehanna River.
In the years since, Johnson has stood trial twice for her death. The state has been unable to score a conviction that sticks. This is their third go at a second-degree murder charge.
Thursday, four weeks into arguments, prosecutors rested their case after calling more than two dozen witnesses. Seven minutes later, the defense motioned for judgement of acquittal.
Johnson’s team argued that the state failed to prove their case with a lack of evidence, an incomplete investigation and no proof that Barnes was murdered.
They argued, “the state has to first prove that this was a killing, not just a death.”