UPDATE @ 10:07 a.m.
Malcolm Franklin has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
UPDATE @ 4:50 p.m., Dec. 3, 2018: After waiting 18 months for trial, it took a jury just four hours Friday to convict Malcolm Franklin guilty of fatally shooting Julian Johnson at D&J’s Nite Spot in Middletown.
The jury sent out four questions asking about jury instructions and the ability to agree on a verdict before returning to the courtroom at about 4:20 p.m. with a verdict.
Franklin was found guilty of murder, three counts of felonious assault, and tampering with evidence for firing 11 shots into a group of four people on the patio of the Middletown bar on May 30, 2017.
Johnson died at the scene, two others were injured, and one narrowly escaped physical injury.
When the verdict was read, Franklin showed no emotion, but his mother sobbed and prayed in the second row of the courtroom.
Johnson’s family and prosecutors declined comment after the verdict was announced.
UPDATE @ 4:45 p.m.:
A jury has found Malcolm Franklin guilty of murder for the 2017 shooting death of Julian Johnson at D&J’s Nite Spot in Middletown.
In closing arguments Friday, defense attorneys told a jury “thank God” the man on trial for murder had a gun on him outside a Middletown bar.
“Thank God he had the gun or that man (Malcolm Franklin) would be dead and Julian Johnson would be on trial,” said defense attorney Frank Schiavone III to the jury in closing statements.
Franklin, 28, is charged with murder and three counts of felonious assault after firing into a group of four people behind D&J’s Nite Spot in 2017, killing Julian Johnson.
Franklin has maintained that he was scared for his life after alleged threats made against him on social media, but prosecutors say the Louisiana native acted with “absolute callousness and disregard for human life.”
“He knew there were three to five people out there and he still pulled out a gun and fired 11 times,” said Assistant Prosecutor Kraig Chadrick.
The jury began deliberations at about 12:40 p.m. Friday after 2½ days of testimony and three hours of closing arguments.
Chadrick pointed out the concentrated pattern of gunshots and said they show Franklin’s claim that he was not aiming at anyone is not true.
“He knew what he was doing that night,” Chadrick said. “He wasn’t running for his life.”
Prosecutors painted a timeline for jurors, saying Franklin went alone to the bar on Elliott Drive, sent his ride away, and then did not go into the bar. Instead, he walked around the back to a fence and opened fire 19 minutes later — when Johnson walked outside the bar.
“Of the 11 gunshots Franklin fired, eight hit their target,” said Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall.
A gun and a magazine loaded with 29 bullets were found under Johnson’s body, but there is no evidence it was fired.
Franklin took the stand in his own defense this week, telling the jury he had never talked with Johnson before the night of the shooting and did not see a gun in the 23-year-old’s hand when he approached the fence to talk with him.
“I say, ‘Hey man, what’s up? I heard you want to kill me,” Franklin told the jury.
He said Johnson’s answer was: “Boy, I ‘ought to.”
Then he said there was a shot
Franklin said he pulled out his gun and started “running and shooting,” not aiming the gun at anyone.
Franklin said he later threw the gun and fled from police because he was scared.
Johnson was in possession of a “killing machine,” the defense said, and a wound on his foot points to a shot he fired first into his own body.
“(Franklin) pulled out his gun to defend himself,” Schiavone III said.
The lawyer also told jurors it “would have been good to know if Julian Johnson had gunshot residue on his hands,” adding that test was not done by investigators.