• Gwinnett man represents himself in murder trial

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A prisoner-turned-jailhouse lawyer is representing himself in his Gwinnett County murder trial.

    Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas sat in on the trial Wednesday as Sherwin Johnson questioned witnesses. Johnson is accused of shooting and killing Kevin Pierre in 2014.

    Thomas said tensions were high in the courtroom, not only between the defendant and his co-counsel, but also the judge and district attorney’s office.

    Prosecutors said Johnson has tried to intimidate witnesses long before they ever got to court.

    Witness Janiece Washington took the stand describing how bullets seemed to fly everywhere after the fight in the middle of the street on the night four years ago when Pierre was slain.

    “He was just shooting randomly,” Washington said.

    Prosecutors said Johnson fired the shots into houses and cars, hitting and killing Pierre. Investigators believe he may have been an innocent bystander.

    Johnson is representing himself at the murder trial, while allowing a court-appointed attorney to be his co-counsel.


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    “I will stay in as lead counsel,” Johnson told the judge Wednesday.

    Johnson insists he had nothing to do with the shooting.

    Washington described a man who looked like Johnson firing out the window of a truck, but she didn’t specifically identify Johnson.

    “He was shooting out the car the entire time they were turning around and leaving,” Washington said.

    Johnson has been handling his case from behind bars the past four years. Prosecutors accuse him of trying to intimidate witnesses as he played attorney -- a theory they are trying to get before the jury.

    Johnson has been questioning most of the witnesses in the case so far.

    Thomas said there were a lot of starts and stops to testimony as the judge, lawyers and Johnson discussed legalities on Wednesday.

    Testimony in the trial is expected to resume Thursday.

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