BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Wednesday was the third day for the trial involving Michael Johnson, who has been accused for the third time for the murder of Phylicia Barnes.
Barnes was a 16-year-old girl from North Carolina who disappeared while visiting her half-sisters in Baltimore around Christmas in 2010. Her body was eventually discovered floating in the Susquehana River.
Johnson was convicted once before, but a judge later tossed the ruling. Johnson’s second time in the courtroom ended in mistrial.
Attorneys spent about the first hour Wednesday in opening arguments. After that, witnesses were called, including the victim’s half sister, who broke down when asked about the time she spent with Barnes before she disappeared.
The State argued: “Michael Johnson was attracted to her, obsessed with her and, ultimately, on December 28th, Michael Johnson killed Phylicia Barnes.”
They pointed to Johnson’s bank statements, phone calls and text messages as key evidence. The defense said there are no forensics to back up the State’s case.
The defense said: “Mr. Johnson is an innocent man who has been wrongfully accused and living his own nightmare.”
Another unusual twist to the case; Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was in attendance. She sat behind prosecutors and took notes and intently watched as witnesses took the stand.
The key players in the case are under gag orders; meaning they’re not suppose to talk about their testimony.