Testimony begins in trial of man charged in fatal Middletown bar shooting

Prosecutors say Malcolm Franklin fired 11 rounds into a cluster of four people on the patio of D&J‘s Nite Spot during the early morning hours of May 30, 2017, killing Julian Johnson and wounding two others.

But Franklin’s defense attorneys say Franklin was in fear for his life and committed the act in self defense.

Franklin, 28, formerly of Louisiana, is charged with murder as well as three counts of felonious assault for gun violence at the Elliott Drive bar.

Opening statements and testimony began Tuesday afternoon following some heated argument and a motion for a dismissal of charges or mistrial by the defense before the jury entered the room.

Defense attorneys Frank Schiavone III and Frank Schiavone IV took issue with YouTube video connected to Johnson and that they say may have been evidence of Franklin’s fear of the man.

Judge Charles Pater denied the motion after questioning both assistant prosecutors, Jon Marshall and Kraig Chadrick, and Middletown Police Detective Jon Rawlins about when they saw the video and what Franklin said about “a video.”

The Schiavones argued the video showing Johnson, 23, holding a gun and money and standing beside a grave in Woodside Cemetery should have been pursued by police or turned over to the defense as evidence that Franklin had reason to fear Johnson.

The prosecutors and detective said Franklin mentioned a video in his interview with police but said they did not see the YouTube video until months later.

Rawlins said Franklin said he used the video to identify Johnson.

Franklin went to the bar to talk to Johnson and had a conversation at the fence before the shooting, Schiavone IV told the jury.

“Evidence will show Johnson pulled a gun. Evidence will show Franklin feared for his life,” Schiavone IV said telling the jury that Johnson and Franklin had a conversation at the fence and Franklin said, “Bro, you said you wanted to kill me.”

The defense said Johnson had a gun with 29 rounds underneath him when he was found dead.

Chadrick told the jury “there is not going to be any evidence that anyone else in D&J’s Nite Spot pulled a gun and fired a gun other that Malcolm Franklin.”

Prosecutors say Franklin was outside the fence by a tree before opening fire.

The prosecution’s first witness was Johnson’s girlfriend, Natasha Walton, who testified she was shot first when the gunfire rang out.

“I got hit first,” Walton said about the shooting. “I fell to the ground.”

Walton said she was hit in the left side of her stomach and her legs gave out.

Walton said she did not see Johnson talking to anyone at the fence before shots were fired.

The trial continues tomorrow in Butler County.

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