Man convicted in Arkansas graduation shooting gets 105 years in prison

Dec 16, 2023, 12:30 PM

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A jury has convicted a man accused of firing a gun into a crowd following a high school graduation ceremony in Arkansas, killing one and injuring four others.

At the end of the five-day trial in Garland County Circuit Court, the six-man, six-woman panel deliberated for less than an hour Friday before convicting Charles Johnson Jr., 26, of first-degree murder in the 2022 death of Michael Jordan, 39, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

It took just over an hour before the jury recommended a sentence of 40 years in prison with an enhancement of five years added for the use of a firearm, the newspaper said. They also found him guilty of four counts of first-degree battery and sentenced him to 20 years for injuries to Markezeon Carlton Green, with an enhancement of 10 years for committing the offense in the presence of a child; 15 years for injuries to Candice Hughes; and five years each for the injuries to Monique West and Adamma Watson.

Judge Ralph Ohm said the jury recommended the sentences run consecutively for a total of 105 years.

Johnson chose not to testify and his court-appointed attorney, Mark Fraiser, did not present any other witnesses or testimony.

The shooting happened May 12, 2022, outside the Hot Springs Convention Center, which had hosted a graduation ceremony for Hot Springs World Class High School. Hot Springs officers wounded Johnson, who fled and was later arrested at a hospital on a murder warrant.

In his closing arguments, Deputy Prosecutor Brock Price outlined evidence against Johnson, including matching the clothes and shoes worn by the shooter as seen in multiple cellphone videos and police body camera footage to Johnson, and matching his DNA to the blood trail leaving the scene as he fled after being shot by police.

Price said Johnson walked toward a group that included Jordan and Green and “fired into the crowd” even though police were just a few feet away. He continued firing into the crowd while running away.

Hot Springs is a popular tourist destination that’s about 45 miles (75 kilometers) southwest of Little Rock.

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Man convicted in Arkansas graduation shooting gets 105 years in prison