Shawn Johnson’s Murder Trial Begins In Florence

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Twelve years after Keith Barnett’s death, one of the men accused of his beating is now on trial in Lauderdale County.

Just before 9am Monday morning, 150 potential jurors filed into the fifth floor courtroom in Lauderdale County to begin the trial proceedings of Shawn Johnson.

The 43-year-old is accused of beating 22-year-old Keith Barnett outside a Tennessee night club in July of 2000.

Investigators say that Shawn Johnson and his brother Shannon beat Barnett with a baseball bat before dumping his unconscious body in Alabama.

Barnett died two months later in a Birmingham hospital.

10-years after the beating death, the Johnson brothers were indicted by a Lauderdale County grand jury.

A multi-jurisdictional task force looking into the cold case in 2010 received new information that led to the arrests.

According to prosecutors, Shannon Johnson will testify against his brother during the trial, in return he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, getting 20-years in prison.

That deal could be taken off the table if Shannon Johnson lies during his testimony.

More than 75-witnesses have received a subpoena to testify during the trial for either the state or defense.

Courthouse officials say that the trial could last into next week.

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