Jury visits bar that was scene of fatal shooting in Middletown

A jury was selected late Monday afternoon in the trial of a man charged in a fatal shooting outside a Middletown bar nearly 18 months ago.

Malcolm Franklin, 28, formerly of Louisiana, is charged with murder as well as three counts of felonious assault for gun violence in 2017 at D&J’s Nite Spot.

Last week both prosecutors and the defense team told Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater they were ready for trial and both sides began questioning potential jurors just after 9 a.m. Monday. A jury of six men and six women was selected at about 2:40 p.m.

The 12 jurors and two alternates then boarded a bus to Middletown to view the scene of the gun violence outside the bar at 1200 Elliott Drive. The jury view was requested by the defense team, but Franklin did not make the trip after waiving his right to do so.

Franklin allegedly shot Julian Marquis Johnson, 23, outside the bar during the early morning hours of May 30, 2017. Three others were also injured by gunfire, according to Middletown police.

Two 911 callers seconds after a fatal shooting painted a chaotic scene to dispatchers.

“Everybody is freaking out in here,” one 911 caller said. “Oh my God. Oh my God.”

At first, the woman said there was “a shootout” in the bar and at least one person was injured. Throughout the call, the sounds of people screaming and yelling could be heard in the background.

The woman told the 911 dispatcher she heard at least five shots.

Franklin ran from police but was later arrested at Sunset Park. A gun believed to be involved in the shooting was later recovered by police in a flower bed where officers say Franklin fell while running from them.

Middletown police Detective Jon Rawlins testified during a previous hearing that Franklin confessed to killing Johnson.

MORE: Interview and stop of fatal Middletown bar shooting at issue in hearing

Defense attorneys filed motions to suppress statements Franklin made to police without an attorney present and the traffic stop of his client after the shooting because they said there was no probable cause. After a hearing in February, that motion was denied by Pater.

In August, Franklin’s trial was delayed at the request of the defense — attorneys Frank Schiavone III and Frank Schiavone IV — after Schiavone IV suffered a health issue.

Franklin has been housed in the Butler County Jail since his arrest on $1 million bond.

This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Rick McCrabb.

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