Coker: Suspect 'backed himself into a corner'

He backed himself into a corner. That's what Maj. Kipp Coker told jurors that Justin Jermaine Johnson did after he "snapped" during an 8-hour interrogation when Johnson hit the table in an uproar during questions about his deceased son. "It startled me," Coker testified on Thursday at the Clarendon County Administration building. "He calmed down and sat back down. Obviously I struck a nerve." Although jurors watched many hours of Johnson's videotaped interrogation, his alleged uproar happened during a 13 minute gap in the video that jurors only heard about and didn't see. Public Defender Scott Robinson, defending Johnson against multiple charges in the April 6, 2011, shooting deaths of 59-year-old Maxine Caraway and Johnson's 9-month-old son, Jayden, objected to Coker's comment about striking a nerve and Third Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Young sustained. Not long after that, Coker and Deputy Mason Moore left the interrogation room and Coker returned holding a plastic case containing a compact disc, which he tossed onto the table in front of Johnson. Coker then grilled Johnson whether he knew about Kaisha Caraway, his ex-girlfriend, making a 911 call that day. Coker said he could hear Johnson in the background of Kaisha's call, telling her what to do. "I caught you in a lie," Coker tells him bluntly. "You're telling her what to do after the shooting." Moore told Johnson he had the opportunity to tell them what happened. A little later Johnson tells the deputies he thinks Jayden and his 2-year-old daughter were sired by other men. As the deputies point out that Johnson's versions of the shooting keep changing, Moore tells him he's put himself in a box that is getting "tighter and tighter." Coker told him that he probably just snapped, as opposed to being a cold-blooded killer. Moore pressed Johnson to come clean and said he had the opportunity to tell his daughter what really happened. Johnson told the deputies he couldn't remember parts of the incident. He also said he'd not been getting along with Kaisha Caraway for some time and was feuding with her over several issues, including money. As for the shooting itself, Johnson seemed to tell the deputies he blocked certain parts of it or was acting without thinking about what he was really doing and at one point returned to reality when Caraway told her, 'Look what you did,' and grabbed his shotgun, which he let her have. As for shooting his son, "I probably meant to do it," he said. "I didn't even pull the trigger -- we was talking and it just went off." Testimony continues at 9:30 a.m. today.


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