BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Monday brought another day of hard-hitting testimony in the trial of Michael Johnson, the only man ever charged in the death of Phylicia Barnes who vanished in 2010.
For the first time, the two lead detectives from the agencies involved in the case, Baltimore Police and Maryland State Police, testified.
After taking over the case into Barnes’ murder, Maryland State Police say they tapped the phone of her Johnson, her half-sister’s ex-boyfriend, for nearly two months. The wiretap, according to Sgt. David Feltman, was the first used in Maryland State Police history. The tap collected thousands of calls and text messages, including one to his girlfriend at the time that read, “I feel like everything is about to hit the fan. I should pack up and leave.”
Feltman says more than a week later, Johnson sent a text saying “I wonder if I go there, and became wanted here, could they arrest me there.”
Johnson is now on trial for the third time for Barnes’ disappearance. His first conviction was overturned and the second trial ended in a hung jury.
Barnes was staying with her half-sister when she was last seen in December 2010. Her body was found four months later in the Susquehanna River, the same day a man’s body was also found.
Johnson’s defense raised questions about if that man, not Johnson, could be connected to Barnes’ death.
Feltman says there was nothing inside of the man’s car that linked Johnson or Barnes, but also admitted MSP did not thoroughly examine all of the items inside of the car.
Feltman also discussed a blue tote. He bought one from a Home Depot and brought it with him to one of the grand jury hearings to stimulate conversation among the witnesses. Investigators claim that Johnson used a blue tote to haul Barnes’ body in.
Monday afternoon, the lead Baltimore detective in the case read a statement out loud from Johnson in which he described the last day he saw Barnes alive.
When asked if Barnes was alive, Johnson reportedly said “I sure hope so.”
The trial is expected to last several more days.