Dani's day: Murder trial begins with painful photos
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.