Music videos become debated evidence in Columbus courtroom

Music videos become debated evidence in Columbus courtroom


A possible motive came out in pre-trial motions today for what officials believe was a string of armed robberies, beginning with the murder of well-known jewelry store manager Steve Toms.

The state claims Michael Johnson, the only one of six defendants charged with murdering Toms, was the leader of most of the robberies involved in the case.

The prosecution also presented evidence which they say leads them to believe that some defendants' motives were to acquire money for their musical careers. Attorneys showed music videos that they believe reflect criminal activity from Johnson and co-defendant Dimitrius Gordon.

The state accuses the men of being part of a rap group called RBN, or Real Boss Expletive. They asked the judge to allow them to show the music videos once the trial kicks off.

Defense attorneys questioned Terrance Flowers, a music producer of one of the clips, if rap videos he has worked on throughout his career frequently tell stories about crime and illegal activity, to which he said yes.

The defense asked, "So it's not rare for someone to have a gun or talk about selling dope or prostitution or robbing someone in a video correct? " Flowers replied, "Not at all."  Attorneys continued asking, "Okay sort of like making a movie in Hollywood, it's just a story that's being told correct," to which Flowers replied, "Exactly."

Another major talker in court today was similarities in the string of robberies.

Attorneys argued whether or not an individual shown in surveillance video hopping counters at multiple robberies indicate a signature move.

The state claims that individuals used stolen cars or ones with switched tags in all of the robberies involved in this case. They also say an assault weapon was used as well as shoulder bags to store the stolen money.

"Michael Johnson ran to the counter, Gordon ran straight to the back, jumped over the counter, lady tried to run out, threw her hand out, I had her purse like this and I was like ma'am lay down," said Jamar Warner, a man who says he committed one of the armed robberies with Johnson and Gordon.

The trial was scheduled to begin today, but pre-trial motions delayed it. Attorneys expect it will officially start tomorrow.
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