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Man facing trial in Brooks case linked to earlier shooting

A man accused of murdering a Thomson businessman last November in McDuffie County reportedly shot another man back in April 2004 over a dispute involving an alleged drug deal, according to court documents obtained by The McDuffie Mirror.

Michael Johnson, of Thomson, was scheduled to have stood trial this week for the murder of Todd Brooks, but because certain physical evidence has yet to be processed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab, the trial has been postponed indefinitely, according to District Attorney Dennis C. Sanders.

"We're hoping we can get the evidence back from the crime lab in order to hold this trial before the end of the year," Mr. Sanders said. "At this time, we just can't say when the trial might be held, because we don't know when the crime lab is going to be finished processing the physical evidence in this case."

Mr. Brooks was shot multiple times with a .38-caliber revolver during an argument with Mr. Johnson at the defendant's residence off the Wrens Highway last Nov. 22. Mr. Brooks was treated at the scene by local personnel and later pronounced dead at McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson.

In an affidavit and application to secure a search warrant dated Nov. 25, 2006, from McDuffie County Associate Magistrate David Moore, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David Leonard said Mr. Johnson fled the scene and later was taken into custody by Deputy Marc Coy of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department.

A number of new documents have been filed in the case by Mr. Johnson's defense attorney, Jacque Hawk, of the Hawk Firm in Augusta.

One such document provides specific details from a Norcross, Ga., man who contends he was shot by Mr. Johnson back in 2004, following what was described as a bad drug deal. The man who made such an allegation against Mr. Johnson is Charles "Buck" Granados, who also goes by the alias of Carlos Granados, according to records filed in the McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk's Office in Thomson.

Mr. Johnson was never charged in connection with the shooting of Mr. Granados, who at one time lived in Thomson before moving to Norcross. However, Mr. Granados' name appears on a witness list that the prosecution has put together for Mr. Johnson's upcoming murder trial.

It is unclear whether Mr. Granados actually will be called as a witness by the prosecution.

In an April 28, 2006, interview which occurred at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center - nearly seven months before the fatal shooting of Mr. Brooks - Mr. Granados, a self-confessed drug dealer, told state and federal law enforcement authorities that he was shot in the left foot by Mr. Johnson. That particular shooting occurred on or about April 1, 2004, Mr. Granados told his attorney and an investigator. Two others in the interview included Special Agent Jimmy Talkington of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Thomson office, as well as Special Agent Anthony Deprizio of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Augusta office.

The shooting stemmed over an apparent drug deal gone bad, according to GBI Special Agent David Leonard, the lead case agent investigating the murder case of Mr. Brooks. Agent Leonard's comments were made in a GBI investigative summary, which became part of the court case last week when the documents were filed in the McDuffie County Superior Court Clerk's office by Mr. Hawk.

Once such records are filed, they become open to the public unless they are sealed by court order.

At the time of the interview with authorities, Mr. Granados, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy before reportedly becoming involved in drug trafficking, was facing federal charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The disposition of those charges was not disclosed.

Mr. Granados indicated that a portion of that particular federal probe involved "Mr. Johnson," court records reveal. There was no mention of whether any charges were ever filed against the murder defendant, however.

Mr. Granados told authorities that on four different occasions he sold Mr. Johnson approximately a half-pound of ice, a slang name for Methamphetamine.

During one occasion, a drug transaction occurred at the residence of Mr. Johnson, just outside Thomson, Mr. Granados told authorities. A dispute reportedly followed between Mr. Granados and Mr. Johnson about the quality of the drugs.

Mr. Johnson, along with two other men, whose full names were not disclosed, reportedly drove Mr. Granados from a residence in Thomson to Mr. Johnson's residence. Mr. Johnson was said to have been armed with a SKS assault rifle, while the other two men had handguns. Mr. Granados said he was lured into a van at gunpoint.

Mr. Granados told authorities that Mr. Johnson demanded that he contact his drug supplier to have a new batch of better quality ice sent to him. The supplier reportedly refused to comply with the request, which led to another meeting between Mr. Granados and Mr. Johnson at the Johnson home. After drinking some tequila, Mr. Granados decided to leave. As he started to walk out of the home, he was shot in the left foot with what was believed to be a .32-caliber handgun, reportedly fired by Mr. Johnson, according to the court documents.

One of the men there was said to have asked Mr. Johnson, "Why'd you do it?," the documents said.

Mr. Granados told investigators he limped away, walking down the driveway of Mr. Johnson's residence and then received a ride from a friend, who later drove him to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta for treatment. Mr. Granados said he registered at the hospital under a phony name and told hospital personnel that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

MCG police filed a report, which authorities obtained a copy for their investigative purposes.

In one of the latest motions filed in the murder case against Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hawk is asking for a hearing to review the use of some evidence - including Mr. Granados' interview - by the prosecution.

Web posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007

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