Trying to reach WHNT News 19? Our phones are down right now, but you can contact us by email here

Murder Case Co-Defendant Loses Plea Deal, Accused of Lying Under Oath

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A Lauderdale County judge sentenced Shawn Johnson to the maximum penalty for killing Keith Barnett in 2000.

During the week-long trial, Johnson’s brother, Shannon Johnson, testified as a prosecution witness.

As part of a plea deal, Shannon Johnson agreed to 20 years in prison on a manslaughter charge.

But prosecutors say Shannon Johnson lied under oath during his brother’s trial.

Now, Johnson’s plea deal has been rejected.

Shannon Johnson was dubbed as the prosecution’s star witness, but when he took the stand to testify against his brother last month, he didn’t cooperate.

During a court appearance Thursday for prosecutors to reject the plea deal Shannon Johnson shouted obscenities inside the courtroom.

As Johnson got escorted back to jail, he told WHNT News 19:  “We did not kill Keith Barnett.  I don`t even know Keith Barnett.

When asked why he took the plea deal, he stated, “I was scared.”

Johnson’s family members say they are convinced neither Shawn nor Shannon was involved in the beating death of Keith Barnett.

“He was willing to say anything and do anything to get out of jail,” said Steven Johnson about his brother, Shannon Johnson.

Prosecutors say they informed Shannon Johnson of the consequences he would face for lying during his testimony.  According to the district attorney, he’s prepared to try Shannon Johnson for murder.

“It`s our goal Shawn will never get out of prison and we hope in due time, Shannon will be joining him in that,” said Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly.

If convicted by a jury, Shannon Johnson would also face life in prison, with the possibility of parole.