State rests case in murder trial

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 2, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The murder trial involving the death of a 63-year-old Suffolk resident in 2001 continued into its fourth day Friday.

Linwood Williams, the victim, was known to enjoy a game of cards and a drink with friends in the Hollywood neighborhood where he lived. But on Dec. 12, 2001 he was discovered dead on his sofa, resulting from seven blows to the head.


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Two years later, Thomas Lee Johnson, 37, was indicted by the grand jury on first degree murder charges.

The trial has consumed the week, following a day-long selection of jurors on Tuesday. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Will H. Jamerson wrapped up the prosecution’s case against Johnson on Friday afternoon.

Defense Attorneys Johnnie Mizelle and Dwayne B. Strothers attempted to discredit testimony of one witness who had been incarcerated in Greensville Correctional with Johnson.

As he was questioned by Jamerson, the witness said Johnson admitted that he was responsible for the victim’s death, but that he didn’t mean to kill him.

But Mizelle quickly countered in his questioning, and revealed a string of felony charges, attempting to disprove the witness’ creditability.

Detective A.M. Wilson also took the stand to recount the murder investigation. He told the court that a woman, Marsha Whitfield, was questioned following the discovery of Williams’ body.

Wilson denied that he’d ever told the woman that she should not &uot;take the fall&uot; for Williams’ murder, but added that he &uot;may possibly&uot; have told her that the penalty for capital murder is death.

Reading from three legal documents signed by Whitfield following her interrogation by Williams, Wilson said he had found several discrepancies in the woman’s statements.

During Friday’s proceedings, the jury was seemingly playing musical chairs as they filed in and out of the courtroom four times before noon. Attorneys had requested the jurors’ removal to speak privately to Circuit Court Judge Ward Eason.

Jamerson ended the Commonwealth’s arguments about 1 p.m., and the jury again left the courtroom. Strothers then asked the judge to strike the evidence against Johnson, insisting there’s no linkage to the murder.

Judge Eason denied the motion and the trial continued as Mizelle and Strothers presented their defense.

There no shortage of physical evidence for the jury to consider, so much so it was wheeled in and stacked high on a two-tier cart. Strothers and Mizelle argued that none of it ties Johnson to the crime scene, not even DNA.

Jamerson told the court Wednesday in opening statements that Johnson was linked to Williams’ death by witnesses at the scene. Testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.