Capital murder trial to begin Wednesday in Miller County

Justin Damone Johnson

A man accused of fatally shooting a man in a drug-related robbery at a Texarkana, Ark., apartment complex in November 2015 was in court Monday for jury selection in his capital murder case.

Justin Damone Johnson, 29, is charged with capital murder in the Nov. 15, 2015 death of 22-year-old Travon Staten. Staten allegedly opened the door of his unit at the Beacon Point Apartments shortly before midnight, according to a probable cause affidavit. Several men wearing masks entered the apartment and exchanged gunfire with those inside.

Staten was pronounced dead at the scene. His girlfriend and baby, who were present at the time of the shooting, were unharmed. The body of Julian Bolton was found outside on the complex grounds. A mask allegedly covered his face. Prosecutors have charged Rashod Rushing, 29, in connection with Bolton’s death. Rushing was allegedly in the apartment with Staten and shot Bolton as he lay on the ground, apparently suffering from a gunshot wound he received while in Staten’s apartment.

Johnson is charged with capital murder and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because the state is not seeking the death penalty, Johnson faces life without the possibility of parole if found guilty. Aggravated assault is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison.

According to earlier news reports, Johnson has faced a murder charge before. He was acquitted by a jury in Albuquerque, N.M., of two counts of murder and other charges. The shooting for which Johnson was tried in New Mexico was allegedly drug-related.

A jury was selected at the Miller County courthouse Monday afternoon. Opening statements and testimony are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.

In 2015 Johnson led police on a high speed chase through Texarkana that ended in a fiery crash.
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