LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Lauderdale County murder case is set to go to trial next month, after the case sat cold for more than a decade.
One of the co-defendants in the case, Shannon Johnson, agreed to testify against his brother, Shawn Johnson.
Now, Shawn Johnson will face a jury, accused of beating Keith Barnett in Tennessee, then dumping his body along a Lauderdale County road, leaving the man for dead.
Johnson’s lawyers want to move the trial to a different county. According to the defense, this high profile case has received so much publicity, a fair jury pool cannot be selected from Lauderdale County residents.
However, the Lauderdale County state’s attorney disagrees. “We`ve got good solid citizens in this county, the victim was a citizen of this county, it should be tried in our own county,” said district attorney, Chris Connolly.
During the hearing, defense attorneys entered pictures and news articles into evidence, hoping to sway the judge’s opinion.
However, Judge Gil Self denied the motion to move the case for now.
According to the judge, potential jurors will be thoroughly questioned about their exposure to the case during jury selection.
At that time, the judge says he will re-evaluate the motion, and make a final ruling.
“We`ll make a decision when we do the jury selection about whether he can get a fair trial here, because we certainly want him to have a fair trial,” said Connolly.
In order to ensure Johnson’s rights in court, defense attorneys also requested Shawn Johnson’s past not be brought up during the testimony of any witnesses, including any fights or acts of violence, not related to this case.
In return for testifying against his brother, Shannon Johnson reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
Shannon Johnson was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a manslaughter charge.