ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - A man convicted of murder in Decatur County almost three years ago, has lost his appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, where he claimed that the District Attorney struck too many black people off the jury list at his trial.
Jonathan Johnson was indicted for malice murder, attempt to commit kidnapping, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and a drug charge, for his part in the 2014 murder of Robert 'Cannonball' Cannon, Jr. in Bainbridge.
Joe Mulholland, District Attorney for the South Georgia Circuit, was very pleased with the affirmation of the verdict:
"These were obviously some serious allegations by appellate counsel. I was glad to see that the Supreme Court, unanimously, found them to be false and without basis. I would also like to let the family of the victim know that although it was a long struggle, our office can finally give them some closure in this case."
Joshua Anthony Lee was convicted as the triggerman in Cannon's death, and Marquis Trevon Scott was arrested for taking part. Scott pleaded guilty to criminal attempt to commit murder, in November 2015.
In picking the jury, the defense had 11 peremptory juror strikes, and the state was allowed 10.
District Attorney Joe Mulholland said he struck nine of the 16 potential black jurors due to previous run-ins with the law, relatives who had been or were being criminally prosecuted for unrelated incidents, knowing the victim or co-defendant, and medical problems that would interfere with the trial.
Johnson's defense attorney challenged the state's strikes as racially motivated.
The case went to trial with a jury that was 75 percent white and 25 percent black. Johnson was convicted of murder, aggravated assault and possession of marijuana, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Jonathan Johnson's attorney, Patrick Chisholm argued before the state's highest court that Johnson should get a new trial, because the D. A. struck jurors just because they were black.
District Attorney Joe Mulholland argued that while some of the jury strikes were based on evidence that might have turned out to be unsupported after further investigation, there was no racial intent.