Phylicia Barnes Verdict: Michael Johnson, Md. man, found guilty of second-degree murder in NC teen's death
Barnes' body was found in a river after she vanished Dec. 28, 2010, while visiting her sister in northwest Baltimore.
Johnson was the former boyfriend of Barnes' older sister and the last person to see her alive, authorities say.
The jury was challenged to consider whether all of the evidence points to Michael Johnson as the man who killed 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes in December 2010 and then dumped her body in the Susquehanna River, where it was found four months later.
According to CBS Baltimore, petty criminal James McCray offered key testimony during the trial, saying Johnson showed him Barnes' dead body and asked for help getting rid of it. He says Johnson confessed to raping his ex-girlfriend's sister and then choked her when she wouldn't stop crying.
Defense attorneys reportedly called him a professional snitch who had some inaccuracies in his testimony, but prosecutors said McCray received nothing in exchange for it and had no reason to lie. The defense pointed out the rest of the state's case is built on circumstantial evidence.
CBS Baltimore reports that late Tuesday, the jury was asked to watch two of the videos they'd already seen in evidence: a Wal-Mart security video that shows Johnson purchasing the same kind of storage container that prosecutors allege he used to get rid of Barnes' body and a cell phone video that showed Johnson, his younger brother, Barnes and her older sister all intoxicated, naked and engaged in sex acts.
The Barnes case led to a bill in the Maryland legislature called "Phylicia's Law," to improve coordination between law enforcement and community groups when a child disappears. The bill requires state officials to publish a list of missing children and annual statistics. They may also keep a list of groups of volunteers to help with searches and local law enforcement must try to work with them.
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