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Jury Delivers Verdict in Phylicia Barnes Murder Trial

Michael Maurice Johnson of Baltimore was found guilty of second-degree murder.

A jury Wednesday found a Baltimore man guilty of second-degree murder in the case of Phylicia Barnes, a teen whose body was found in the Susquehanna River in 2011, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Michael Maurice Johnson, 29, of Baltimore, who had dated Barnes' half-sister Deena for several years, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in April. He was reportedly the last person said to have seen Barnes alive.

The 16-year-old Barnes, a student from Monroe, NC, was visiting her half-sister in northwest Baltimore when she went missing Dec. 28, 2010. Several search parties attempted to locate the teen, who was said to be an honor student.

Workers at the Conowingo Dam discovered her body on April 20, 2011, and authorities identified the teen by her dental records.

Jurors have been deliberating since Monday, after the judge expressed "great concern" about what was presented during the 11-day trial, according to WBAL TV.

Most of the evidence was circumstantial, several media outlets indicated.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the major pieces of evidence were two videos—a Walmart surveillance tape showing Johnson purchasing a plastic tub that prosecutors said he put Barnes' body in, and a cell phone video showing Barnes, Deena, Johnson and others intoxicated and kissing.

One man, who CBS News said provided "key testimony," said Johnson told him that he raped Barnes, choked her because she wouldn't stop crying and asked for help disposing of her body.

"There is only one person in this investigation that all of the facts and circumstances point to," the assistant state's attorney said, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Upon hearing the guilty verdict on Feb. 5, Barnes' mother said "Yes!" and her father said, "Now she can sleep," the Charlotte Observer reported.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, and Johnson may face up to 30 years in jail.

See Related: 

  • Former Boyfriend of Phylicia Barnes' Sister Indicted on Murder Charge
  • Investigation into Death of Teen Moves to ‘New Place’
  • Two Bodies Pulled from Susquehanna River
  • Female Body Found in Susquehanna River is Missing Teen from Baltimore
  • Police Still Searching for Missing 16-Year-Old
  • Search for Missing Girl Brings Maryland Rescue Teams Together
George Costanza February 06, 2013 at 07:43 PM
This is a very sad case indeed. But what is even sadder, is that when Phylicia Barnes went missing, she was described in the squeaky cleanest terms - an honor student, a virtual angel. But instead, we find that she was sexually involved with nothing but a thug - not the kind of male we would hope she would be with. I guess no matter how angelic we want to believe people are, they are just lured away by the gangsta mentality. I suppose the same can be said of Trayvon Martin.
monica rollins February 06, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Mr.costanza you have no right to place judgment against Phylicia, she was a young lady being misled by her older sister. She was a well liked honor student and she appeared to have an good upbringing. Mr think you know it all, you can go to hell in a hand basket. Then again,you don't deserve the hand basket!
Nichole McRae February 06, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Regardless of how Phylicia chose to live her life, regardless of her not so good choices no one I mean NO ONE deserves to be raped, choked, and dumped in a river. MJ got exactly what he deserve. God will deal with him now.
charnel February 07, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Something people read to much in what a victim has done prior to a crime being committed against them. If you look at the facts instead of giving your opinon you will learn more. In any crime you will never know the complete truth of what really occurred unless you were apart of it.
Tresa February 07, 2013 at 05:51 PM
I agree with Nichole, Phylicia did not deserve to be raped and killed they way she was...in fact, no one deserves it. I was sad to hear of this young lady's disappearance but even sadder when her body was finally found. You kill, you deserve to go to prision, no ifs ands or buts about that! Time for a change in our "justice" system.
Polly February 07, 2013 at 07:15 PM
@tresa I was also saddened when I first saw the report on the news about her disappearance. I didn't have a good feeling about it at all, and almost knew she was already dead. She was a beautiful young lady whose life crossed paths with the devil . As a mother I can't imagine how devastating and heart breaking this whole thing is for her parents. I pray that they can find peace again.
Carole Taylor February 08, 2013 at 12:41 AM
@George..I won't even give you the respect of calling your Mr.!!! How dare you judge Miss Barnes!!!! She was the victim in this horrible tragedy. So what if she made some bad decisions or was influenced by not so good people preceeding her death. Are you squeaky clean? Have you made decisions you have regretted or done things you wished you had not? Shame on you!!!!
Kaori February 08, 2013 at 05:01 AM
"Phylicia did not deserve to be raped and killed they way she was" This would be a lot better if it just said, "Phylicia did not deserve to be raped and killed."
Janice Elizabeth February 08, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Now, get that so-called half-sister!
Janice Elizabeth February 08, 2013 at 11:11 AM
George Costanza is the appropriate name for an idiot. According to today's standards, yes Phylicia as well as Trayvon, were squeaky clean. ". . . . nothing but a thug. . .", ". . . . . gangsta mentality." You pulled those comments out of your ass (mouth), didn't you!
Polly February 08, 2013 at 12:35 PM
@ George Constanza What makes you think that Trayvon Martin was lured into the gangsta mentality? That is not at all what I think/thought of him. He was just a kid coming home from 7-11 with some candy and a drink. The fact that he had a teeny amount of marijuana in his stystem at the time of his death is quite insignificant. If he had been behaving suspiciously, like lurking and looking into windows, etc., then maybe GZ had the right to ask him what he was doing there. How in the hell was Trayvon supposed to know who GZ was? If GZ had been following me around like that I probably would have screamed so someone would come help, but I'm not a 17 year old young man. In fact I'm a middle aged, white female. But, I saw from the very beginning exactly what happened and why. GZ is a cop wannabe on the lookout for black males that had been allegedly involved in a couple of recent break-ins and poor Trayvon fit the bill. SMH I can only hope and pray that GZ (the loser) is found guilty and is locked up for a very long time. He's a threat to the safety to everyone except himself. I have a nick name for him P+&&Y with a gun as that's exactly what he his. Not to mention a lying prick.
Polly February 08, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Are you serious? GZ was on his way to Target and saw a black male walking along with a hoodie on (it was raining) PERIOD. It's called profiling. If GZ had followed the instructions given to him to not continue to follow him as police were on their way. GZ has been telling the story he wants everyone to believe. I don't believe anything he says. And the way he lied under oath and to a judge and his own attorney to conceal the hundreds of thousands of dollars he had in his bank account(s)?? He sure made O'Mara look bad. If, and I mean a big IF I can guarantee you that if TM had repeatedly banged his head on the sidewalk he would have had a more significant injury. I have friends and family in Orlando so maybe I get a little more info than you. I'm certainly in favor of him getting a fair trial. It might help further that if O'Mara would stay off TV putting his BS out there and polluting the jury pool. Sorry if you thought I was trying to be a judge, jury and executioner type, as I said nothing of the sort, and most definately not execute him. It's not a death penalty case. As for my language, I'm too old to give a damn what my mother thinks, she's not around anyway.
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Nothing like altering reality! Do you work for NBC? did YOU alter that 911 tape? Did you SEE these pictures? What was he to do? http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/03/justice/george-zimmerman-photo
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Polly, you "profile" every day of your life. You judge people by their looks, actions and what is in your mind. We all "profile" as a matter of survival. It is ingrained in the human mind as a practical survival technique. If police did not profile with every person they came across in their duties, we would see many many more dead police. There is no law or moral issue with GZ profiling anyone he comes across. Apparently his profiling paid off and he is alive and the attacker is dead.
Polly February 08, 2013 at 03:19 PM
@ Sanchez - How did I alter reality? No I don't work for NBC and I've never been in possession of said tape. And yes I've seen the photos countless times. There is no doubt he has a nose with some blood running down. I was referring to the back of the head injuries where he said that TM banged his head into the sidewalk repeatedly. The back of his head had a minor injury with a little blood as well. If you know anything about any injury to the head you would know that they always bleed way out of proportion to the injury. I remember when my son was much younger he went to a monster truck show and some jerk in the balcony above them threw a beer bottle down which hit my son right on top of his head. This was a boys/mens night out so I wasn't there, but was notified and met them at the ER. Not only was his entire head covered in blood and matted his hair, but there was blood all over his shirt front, jacket, jeans and shoes. And I mean a lot. Small injury which only required 3 staples. (cont.)
Polly February 08, 2013 at 03:19 PM
@Other Tim - my opinions are also formed from news reports, newspapers and websites. Because my opinion might be different youthink I don't. Again, I have friends and family in Orlando and were the first to tell me about it, before it made the national headlines. Did you know the 1st officer at the scene, had gotten himself in a lot of problems. After exiting a bar drunk with friends he proceeded to beat a homeless man mercilessly. But since his father was also on the force no charges were brought until someone with a video tape of the beating. Then he and his father got in trouble. Also GZ his quite familiar with Sandler PD and the employees as well
Polly February 08, 2013 at 03:29 PM
@ Sanchez - you might just have a point there. Although the older I get the less I do it. GZ was looking for black males (description of recent burglars), period. He should have expanded that lookout to black males acting suspiciously. Walking home in the complex is not suspicious. And wearing a hoodie when it's raining isn't either. I wear hoodies often and put the hood up when it's raining so my hair doesn't get wet. Most folks do that as well. His profiling paid off???? He wouldn't have been confronted if he hadn't been following him in the first place, in contradiction to what the police told him to do. And asking TM why he was there, etc., was none of his business, since at that point all he was was a man in the neighborhood and not acting in his capacity as a "Neighborhood Watch" person. And if he had been NW he would not have been permitted to carry and/or conceal as it's strictly prohibited. Did it ever occur to you that his behavior might have been a bit scary for Trayvon? Which caused TM to punch him in the face.
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 03:31 PM
The link shows the large gash and bloody head as well. Reality is NOT what you typed. When i read anything like this I take everything else with the credibility it deserves, NONE! "If you know anything about any injury to the head ..." The attacker was killed and the ATTACKED lived, just haw things are supposed to end up.
Polly February 08, 2013 at 03:43 PM
@ Sanchez I've just reviewed the link you posted again and it's a video not a picture. The picture that was included in the video only had the nose injury. Are you questioning the validity of my statement that head injuries bleed a lot more than anywhere else (almost) on the body? Ask anyone in the medical profession then. The attacker would NOT have been ATTACKED if he had followed the instructions from the PD and/or just gone on to Target and mind his own business. It's sad that you think that a 17 year old should be killed for a broken nose? Don't you think GZ being the adult could have handled the whole situation better than killing him? SMDH
Polly February 08, 2013 at 03:49 PM
@Sanchez - I found a pic of the back of his head. There is no "large gash" that's dried blood that went down from the small abrasion. If you clean away the blood that dried you would see two very small injuries and certainly nothing like would he would have looked like IF TM had continuously banged his head onto the sidewalk. Which is what he said repeatedly. Anyway, let's just not end this now. We don't agree, period. But, I am sorry that you think the life of an innocent 17 year old doesn't matter.
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Too bad the thug decided to not continue on HIS way eating his skittles and picked on the wrong man. Anyone banging someones elses head into the pavement for no good reason deserves the fate that falls on them.
Polly February 08, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Are you really that dense??? Of could it be that you just don't want to see it?? IF his head had been banged on the pavement he'd have bigger injuries, swelling and LOTS of blood. And Trayvon was drinking the tea or eating the skittles, he was just carrying them. And neither could be considered a weapon.
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 04:18 PM
I do not base my comment on the altered NBC 911 tape just as I do not base it on the amount of blood the msm is willing to show or not. I base my comments on the age old rule of defense of self and survival. If that thug had not attacked Zimmerman he may still be alive. The outcome desired is the good guy goes home. I am not saying Zimmerman did everything you feel he should have done but he was attacked and he fought back with the tools he had and he won. How much blood neither you nor I saw has any bearing on anything. His head was banged ion the ground and that is not in dispute!
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 04:28 PM
"GZ was looking for black males" there you go again. Pure speculation and any comment like that has no place in a rational discussion. You apparently heard and remembered the altered 911 tape NBC played to accomplish EXACTLY what you have said. that altered tape was used to ingrain false attributes to Zimmerman and it worked so well on you.
Sanchez February 08, 2013 at 04:36 PM
"He wouldn't have been confronted if he hadn't been following him in the first place," More revisionist bullshirt. If you listen to the 911 call, NOT the NBC one, you will hear "911 dispatcher: Are you following him? [2:24] Zimmerman: Yeah. [2:25] 911 dispatcher: OK. We don’t need you to do that. [2:26] Zimmerman: OK. [2:28] 911 dispatcher: Alright, sir, what is your name? [2:34] Zimmerman: George. He ran." He stopped when told to stop according to the transcript. "Did it ever occur to you that his behavior might have been a bit scary for Trayvon?" Yes! I did wonder about that. i wondered why he would cause a confrontation when none were needed! If I was scared in his position I would have left the area. Another thing ingrained in us, fight or flight. He fought and paid the price. Sometimes the best course is flight. He was apparently feeling big and bad enough that flight was not an option. He paid the price for his poor decision.
M. Sullivan February 09, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Good job, Sanchez. These women who see Trayvon as some poor innocent victim are part of the reason these thugs continue to get a free pass until they finally do something so horrendous that it can't be brushed off. Trayvon messed with the wrong guy and paid the price. End of story.
franking February 09, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Absolutely. The time line proves that he wasn't just walking home from the store, or he would have been back at the Brandy townhome long before he assaulted Zimmerman.
Janice Elizabeth February 10, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Please take some advice. Seek help!
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