LaMonica Johnson has been grieving the slaying of her 7-year-old son for four years. And with no trial date scheduled yet, there is no closure in sight.
“It’s taking too long,” Johnson said last Wednesday after an arraignment hearing in the case against Willie Edward Kelsey, 32, of Decatur, who was arrested in December 2007 for the killing of Timothy Johnson Jr. Johnson’s sister, Alexus Shepherd, who was 15 at the time, was critically wounded during the shooting.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the crime.
“Four years is a long time to grieve,” Johnson said. “I’m ready to get it over with. I’m ready to put it behind me and deal with it, but each time I have to face him, it hurts.”
Kelsey is accused of shooting the children execution-style while they slept at their grandfather’s home on Toney Drive in Decatur on Sept. 16, 2007. That was the day before Shepherd was supposed to testify in a trial about the 2006 invasion of her family’s Stone Mountain home.
According to the indictment against Kelsey, he was trying to prevent the parents and sister of the slain boy from testifying in the criminal trial case of Johnny Travitt, who was sentenced to life in prison in February 2009 after pleading guilty for his part in the first home invasion against the Johnson family.
In addition to murder, Kelsey was charged with aggravated assault, burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of marijuana and violation of the state’s controlled substance act.
A second suspect, Jarvis Marquez Gibson, 27, of Atlanta, was arrested Dec. 31, 2007, after voluntarily surrendering himself for questioning in the case. Gibson was charged with murder, aggravated assault and burglary.
During a court appearance in December 2007, then Police Chief Terrell Bolton called Kelsey “a monster among us.”
Johnson said she had expected him to make guilty a plea last week.
“We have to deal with them filing motions,” Johnson said. “It’s not even the beginning of the trial. We’re suffering for what he did. I lost my child. He [Kelsey] gets to stand up in court and speak.”
Kelsey is being represented by capital public defenders–public defense attorneys specially trained to handle death penalty cases. During the past four years, two sets of defense attorneys have quit Kelsey’s case after leaving the public defense system.
Now, defense attorneys Priya Lahki and Watani Tyehimba of Georgia Capital Defenders must wade through 4,000 pages of information to prepare for Kelsey’s trial. Lahki told Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter last week that she expects to be ready to file motions in the case by Nov. 15.
“It seems like it’s never going to come,” Timothy Johnson Sr., the father of the slain boy, said of the trial. “It seems like it’s going to take another couple of years to start the case.”