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Jury finds Johnson guilty of murdering Todd Brooks

Missy Brooks waited a long time for justice.

Finally, on Friday, she received it, as the man responsible for killing her husband was convicted of murder in McDuffie County Superior Court.

A jury of eight women and four men convicted 29-year-old Michael Samuel Johnson on three of four criminal charges. Those charges included felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes. Jurors, meanwhile, returned a not guilty verdict against Mr. Johnson on a charge of malice murder.

Mr. Johnson was immediately sentenced to life in prison, plus five years by Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway Jr. Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson's defense attorney, Jacque Hawk of Augusta, told The McDuffie Mirror in a telephone interview on Friday afternoon that he will be filing a motion for a new trial and that Mr. Johnson would be eligible for parole in several years.

The convictions followed three days of trial testimony from a number of witnesses in a case that involved the shooting death of 36-year-old Todd Brooks, a self-employed Thomson businessman and well-known community youth baseball coach. The killing happened at Mr. Johnson's mobile home off the Wrens Highway near Thomson on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006.

Before Mr. Johnson was sentenced, Mrs. Brooks and several other family members and a friend offered victim impact statements.

Mrs. Brooks addressed the courtroom of more than 75 people - many of them relatives and close friends of the victim - saying that she remembered going to her first junior-senior prom with Mr. Brooks and the many things they have shared with each other through the years. She said Mr. Brooks worked hard to provide for her and their three children, Peyton, 12, Porter, 8 and Phoebe, 4.

Mrs. Brooks said she is serving a life sentence without parole, because she no longer has a husband to do things with and that their children no longer have their father to do things with.

"My husband was a good man," Mrs. Brooks said.

She has memories - lifelong memories of her husband, Mr. Sanders said.

"He (Todd Brooks) impacted this community in so many ways," adding that he was proud to live in a county like McDuffie where so many good people like Mr. Brooks hailed from. "Todd Brooks was a good man, your honor. He was a good man."

"Todd loved his family so much," added Louise Jones Graham, Mrs. Brooks' great aunt.

During the time the victim impact statements were being read, seven female jurors walked through a back door of the courtroom and sat down on the pews to hear the remaining portion of the case.

Shelly Clark, a close friend of the Brooks' family, said the loss of Mr. Brooks is not just a loss for the family, but for everyone who knew him. Ms. Clark said Mr. Brooks was the "center of his family's world."

Mr. Brooks was shot to death following an argument, struggle and fight with Mr. Johnson that erupted over 18-year-old Rebecca Heacock of Thomson. Miss Heacock had been close friends of the Brooks' family since she was a little girl. At the time of the shooting, Miss Heacock had been staying at the Johnson residence for a couple of days.

It was revealed during the trial that Miss Heacock and Mr. Johnson were actually having sexual relations. On Wednesday, Miss Heacock was arrested by authorities at the courthouse on a charge of driving with a suspended license and a suspended identification. She was released on bond that night from the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center, according to Investigator Larry Adaway of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department.

Web posted on Friday, January 18, 2008

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