Dani's day: Murder trial begins with painful photos

Seen here in a family photo, Danielle Howard was only 22 at the time of her death.

Nearly three years after Katherine Danielle Howard, 22, was gunned down on a quiet residential street in Gordonsville, the trial of the teen accused of killing her starts in U.S. District Court Monday, December 8.

Facing four federal counts, including cocaine distribution and use of a firearm in drug trafficking that caused a death, Gary Christopher "G-Money" Johnson was 16 when Howard, known as "Dani" to her friends and family, died February 22, 2006.

Slight and wearing a yellow Oxford shirt, Johnson, who was indicted in June by a federal grand jury, did not turn around to face his potential jurors during the four-hour jury selection. An all-white panel of 10 women and four men will hear the week-long trial.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Jacobsen, Johnson had come from New York to stay with his cousin, Curtis Waldron, Howard's drug-dealing boyfriend, in their house at Shenandoah Crossing. Johnson often called Waldron his uncle and came to live with them on the condition he get his GED. When Dani complained to Waldron that Johnson was sitting around smoking pot and not going to school, the defendant had an altercation with Waldron. Later, said the prosecutor, Johnson told a witness, "I just popped my uncle's wife."

Jacobsen promised the jury an eyewitness to the murder, Justin Harris, who allegedly was with Johnson when he stole Waldron's coke, cash, Glock .357 Sig pistol, and Howard's white minivan while Waldron and Howard went to Pennsylvania February 21, 2006, to buy a used Saab. When she was nearly home shortly after midnight and saw her white Ford Windstar minivan heading away from home, she did a U-turn and followed it, honking and flashing her lights for it to stop.

The van finally stopped on Cadmus Drive in Gordonsville, and, there, says the prosecution, Johnson fired three times at Howard, striking her twice and leaving her dead in the street. Photos of Howard's body lying in the street sent her mother from the courtroom, and had her father with his head in his hands, looking at the floor.

Defense attorney Richard Davis told the jury that the case hinges on the testimony of Justin Harris, and that there's no evidence who shot Howard with the Glock she'd purchased from Snooky's Pawn shop for Waldron's birthday, nor who was driving the van.

The trial is expected to continue for the rest of the week.


This story really gets me everytime I read it. It's really sad that this family has to live without Dani. The one thing that really irritates me is that this young man was most likely under the influence of cocaine and alcohol. Cocaine and aggression: deadly mix. Now, another young soul will be put in prison for a great number of years over a ridicoulous mistake that will haunt him for the rest of his years. And for what?!
some quick money in cocaine sales and a joy ride?!

And to think, there are numerous rap artists/songs that glorify a "hustla" and the use of illicit drugs. Sick, what's on your mind about this one?

Maybe he just was a bad kid who knew what he was doing. He was a killer. So everyone who is a killer who is high on something not perscribed to them - something he chose to take - should just get let off after killing someone? He clearly didn't plan the murder, they are being nice not charging him with Capital Murder. They are only charing murder, because he does not have Irresistible Impulse, or any other kind of Insanity charger.

"Photos of Howard’s body LYING in the street"
Jeez, doesn't your spellcheck put a green squiggly line under it when you're that ungrammatical?

quote: "Sick, what’s on your mind about this one?"

The real victims in this murder are Danille Howard, her parents, and her family.

You don't want my opinion on the rest of the actors.

Dear Orchid,
Thanks for the grammatical catch, which has been duly corrected.
Lisa Provence

Trust me drugs played no factor in this. johnson was influence by his older cousin who he looked up to. waldron had no attention on helping johnson getting his ged. that was not the plan. he brought him to another state without his mother's permission and had him doing things he never did in his life and after johnson was tiered of the abuse at the hand of older cousin that he looked up to. trust me there is no excuse what so ever for what happend but in all reality there is no real eveidence that johnson did this everyone told on him like he was the master mind. his cousin waldron played a huge part is this sad sory.. my heart goes out to dani and her family. trust me i just lost a family member to murder the same way she died i know exactly how the family feels. sorry,sorry,sorry,sorry,