Nineteen-year-old Johnny V. Johnson, of Chicago Heights, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in connection with a deadly incident on a residential Homewood street.
At an arraignment hearing on Oct. 10, Judge Michele Pitman announced a grand jury indictment charging Johnson with the crimes that Cook County assistant state’s attorneys say led to the death of his alleged accomplice, Romane D. Taylor Jr., of Homewood.
Johnson, who remains in custody under a $500,000 bond, looked staid as he entered Room 103 of the Cook County Sixth Municipal District Courthouse in Markham. He glanced at the rows of supporters who have attended each of his court appearances.
Johnson’s mother sat in the front row, as close as possible to where her son stood in court. Johnson’s father gave his son an emphatic thumbs-up from the back row.
After arriving for the 9 a.m. court call, Johnson’s supporters waited more than four hours until Johnson’s case was called shortly after 1 p.m. The hearing itself was over in less than four minutes.
Johnson’s charges stem from a Sept. 1 incident in which Johnson and Taylor allegedly lured a third individual—an unnamed juvenile— to the 19100 block of Loomis Avenue in Homewood with the intention of robbing that person.
Some kind of fight ensued and the unnamed juvenile shot Taylor, 17, in the stomach. He later died at Advocate Christ Hospital as a result of his injury.
Although Johnson did not shoot Taylor, his indictment falls under a law known as the felony murder rule, which allows the state to charge a person with murder if they are implicated in a “forcible felony” crime during which someone was killed.
Because juvenile justice records are closed to the public and media, it is not currently known whether the unnamed juvenile who actually shot Taylor is facing legal accountability.
During the hearing, the assistant state’s attorney filed a motion to get copies of Taylor’s medical records at Christ Hospital. The attorney for Johnson, David F. Will, indicated he would be filing a motion to have his client’s $500,000 bond reviewed at the next court appearance.
With such a high bond, Johnson would have to produce 10 percent, or $50,000, to be released on bond. As his case makes its way through the court system, he will remain in prison if he fails to make bond. Johnson’s attorney indicated he’d like to return to court for the judge to review his client’s bond. The attorney declined the judge’s offer for a full month to prepare. Johnson will next appear in court Nov. 1.