Jury finds killer of Steve Toms GUILTY

Jury finds killer of Steve Toms GUILTY


COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After close to 5 hours of deliberations, a Columbus jury found Michael Johnson guilty in the murder of well-known jewelry store manager Steve Toms.

The late Friday night verdict ended a nearly 3-week-long trial. Jurors also found both Johnson and co-defendant Dimitrius Gordon guilty for numerous felony charges related to a string of armed robberies that followed the murder of Toms in 2011.

In response to the verdict, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Cooley, who prosecuted this case, simply told News Leader 9, "Justice has been served."

During closing arguments, she got very loud in recounting witness testimony of victims held at gun point and "treated like dogs."

Johnson's defense attorney Mac Pilgrim told us, Michael Johnson was very calm and reserved during the reading of the verdict, with no outbursts by him or Gordon.

"I am disappointed with the verdict," Pilgrim said. "I had hoped the jury would take a little more time. There was 3 weeks or testimony and over 200 items of evidence, including many photographs.

Sentencing for both defendants is set for Monday, June 29 at 3:30 p.m. in Columbus. Johnson could face life in prison without parole. Pilgrim says he plans to provide mitigating circumstances, calling in friends and family to speak on Johnson's behalf.

The attorney also indicated that the judge had taken a break late Friday afternoon, and there was some uncertainty about whether jury would wait to deliberate more next week, but they decided to stay until coming up with a verdict after 10pm Friday.

Earlier in the day, both the prosecution and the defense recapped some highly debated evidence like music videos and surveillance video as they made a final attempt to sway the jury.

The prosecution re-showed the jury evidence that they believe proved defendant Johnson was involved in the murder of Toms at the Gold and Silver jewelry store in Columbus

The jury ultimately found both suspects guilty of armed robbery, assault, and kidnapping.

The defense pointed out other suspects involved in the case. Those suspects have been a big talker for the defense through out the case.

Defense attorneys also reminded the jury of multiple witnesses they called who claim defendant Michael Johnson was with them during the times of multiple armed robberies.

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