Saturday, March 17, 2007

30 Year Sentence for Teenager Who Confessed to Shooting Zebuhr

Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
A year ago, Billy Rae Deshawn Johnson, then 17, pulled the trigger on the gun that killed 25-year-old Michael Zebuhr, who had just finished dining at an Uptown restaurant with his mother, sister and her boyfriend. The killing shook Minneapolis because of the random nature of the crime in a normally safe neighborhood.

On Thursday, Johnson placed both hands on the defense table, hung his head, lifted his eyes to Zebuhr's mother across the room and said in barely discernible words: "I apologize for the loss of your son. ... I hope you will forgive me for what happened to your son."

Hennepin County District Judge Francis Connolly sentenced Johnson, now 18, to 30 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. Johnson pleaded guilty a month ago to second-degree murder. He had been charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced in exchange for his guilty plea.


Johnson's grandmother, Gloria Johnson, spoke to reporters after the sentencing as she pushed her walker with tears in her eyes. "He was my grandson and I raised him. He told me from Day One he didn't kill anyone," she said. "In my heart he didn't shoot anyone, but in my heart he was there."

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 •

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Alleged Killer Update

According to a Hennepin County Courthouse (MN) clerk, one of two accused killers--Billie Ray Deshawn Johnson, 18--pled guilty on February 21, 2007, to murdering Michael Zebuhr in the second degree.

The defendant thereby avoided his trial scheduled to begin February
27 on first degree murder charges which carry life imprisonment if
found guilty. A sentencing hearing for Johnson is scheduled for
March 15, 2007. It is not clear if the prosecution has promised or
guaranteed any specific prison term for Johnson. Johnson's attorney
is a tax-paid public defender (you get what you pay for?). By
avoiding a trial, of course, there is no public exposure of how much
evidence the prosecution possesses to prove its case against the
defendant in a jury trial.

A trial of the second accused suspect in Michael's murder--Donte
Jacobs, 18--(also defended by a public defender) apparently is still
scheduled for trial April 16 in the Hennepin County Courthouse. Plea
to a lesser charge forthcoming?