Co-defendant takes plea deal in shooting death of 15-year-old

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

Crime tape was still lying on the ground on Autry Street in Norcross in front of the home where a home invasion killed a Norcross high school freshman.
NORCROSS, Ga. —

A surprise plea deal Tuesday in the murder of a 15-year old just as prosecutors say one of the defendants was going to trial.

A co-defendant entered a plea and will now testify against his alleged accomplice.

A judge gave his final instructions to a Gwinnett County jury Tuesday afternoon for the trial of Jason Dozier, but when that trial kicks off Wednesday morning, a new star witness could take the stand.

That witness is another man who said he was there the night a Norcross teenager was killed.

"The robbery was the plan, Nicolas Jackson got in the way," Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told Channel 2's Tony Thomas.

Porter said that is the basic premise of the prosecutors' case they will take to the jury.

Early last year, Jackson, 15, was shot and killed as he hid from a group of home invaders who'd burst into his Norcross home. The Norcross High School freshman hid in his bedroom, but was shot in the heart.

"If you ask me did they sit down in Atlanta and plan to kill a 15-year-old? I don't think they did that," Porter said.

In all, seven men have been charged with murder and armed robbery. Jason Dozier is the first to go on trial.

While Dozier sat in court Tuesday during jury selection, one of his co-defendants in the crime, Timothy Johnson, reached a deal.

Johnson admitted to his part in the crime and will testify against the others in exchange for not facing a murder charge.

"He admitted that he was aware of it, that he was one of the people who remained in the van. He actually was driving the van," Porter told Thomas.

Johnson is now expected to be a key witness in this week's trial along with the victim's father, Nicolas Jackson, Sr.

The feds accuse Jackson, Sr. of being a big-time drug dealer.

Prosecutors believe rumors that drugs and cash were stored at the Jackson home triggered the home invasion and ultimately the teen's murder.

"As we move up the ladder of culpability, the plea deals are going to become less and less," Porter said.

The judge overseeing Dozier's trial told Thomas opening statements will begin Wednesday morning. Lawyers said the father is expected to take the stand as well.