Eyewitness testifies G-Money was killer
Justin "Trigger" Harris sat in the witness box in federal court today wearing prison stripes. He's a convicted felon– and the prosecution's star witness in the 2006 murder of Katherine Danielle "Dani" Howard.
Howard, 22, was found dead on a Gordonsville street shortly after midnight on February 22, 2006. Accused of murdering her is Gary Christopher Johnson, 19, a.k.a. G-Money, her boyfriend's cousin who was staying at their house at Shenandoah Crossing in Louisa. So was Harris, who described to the jury the night Howard died.
Harris testified that he shared an interest in rap music and selling drugs with Howard's beau, Curtis "L.A." Waldron, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In February 2006, after being convicted of felony gun possession, Harris had walked away from a work-release program when he ran into Waldron, who brought him to Virginia in his Lincoln Navigator.
Waldron and Howard were leaving the morning of February 21, 2006, to go back to Harrisburg to buy a new car for Howard. But before they left, Waldron had an argument with Johnson and threatened to ship him back to New York "if he didn't get his act together," said Harris.
After the couple left, Johnson mentioned the argument. "He said he wanted to go back to New York, that he was sick of it down here," said Harris. "He was upset." And he testified that if Waldron had spoken to him the way he had spoken to Johnson, he would have felt "disrespected."
Johnson told Harris he knew where Waldron's "stacks" were, Harris testified, referring to bundles of cash that totaled $34,000. Johnson also took Waldron's cocaine, which he kept in a Chinese bowl on the kitchen table under plastic fruit, and Waldon's guns– a .357 and a Mac 11.
Harris said the two took Howard's white Ford Windstar minivan, with Johnson driving. "When we were driving out, we see a car coming in," he said. "Once it was past it put brake lights on. It started to turn around. I said, 'I think it's them.'"
Harris describes how the car– Howard's newly purchased '99 Saab– honked and pulled up beside the minivan, motioning for them to pull over. "It was Dani," he testified.
Johnson tried to hand Harris the .357 he'd stuck in his waistband and get Harris to shoot out the window at Howard, Harris said. "I'm not shooting her," he recalled saying.
The minivan stopped on a curve, Harris testified; Johnson had rolled down the window. Yelling, Howard got out of the car. Johnson opened the minivan door, "then he shot her two or three times."
Harris added, "All I know is I didn't see her anymore. I seen her when she was getting out of the car, then I didn't see her anymore."
Johnson drove the minivan to Culpeper and parked it at an small business park. The two wiped down the van to remove fingerprints, said Harris, and walked over to a 7-11. There, they met a young woman who took them to a Super 8. When she left to go get a friend, Johnson said, "You know, I think I killed her," alleged Harris. The pair then counted the $34,000 in cash.
The young woman, whose name Harris couldn't remember, drove them up to Harrisburg the next day after they paid to fix the tires on her Nissan Altima, said Harris. They went on a shopping spree and weighed the coke, which totaled 300 grams, on Harris' digital scales. From Harrisburg, they went on to New York, where Harris stayed for a couple of days before returning to Harrisburg where he was arrested for his earlier escape.
Harris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine and to being an accessory after the fact in this case, he told the jury. By providing "substantial assistance" in this case, he hopes "to get a deal" that will result in the lower end of sentencing guidelines, he said.
Medical examiner Constance DiAngelo testified that Howard was shot twice in the back, and the fatal gunshot wound was one to her lower back that went through her liver, lung and heart.
The trial is scheduled to continue the rest of this week.
– Updated 12:55pm December 10
Updated December 16: Gary Johnson's age has been corrected in this version.