A 26-year-old Thomson man, currently awaiting trial in the shooting death of a McDuffie County businessman, has never been convicted of anything criminal in McDuffie County.
But Michael Samuel Johnson was no stranger to local law enforcement personnel.
On three different occasions since early 2003, Mr. Johnson was arrested - but never convicted - for several crimes, according to court records viewed by The McDuffie Mirror.
Mr. Johnson now stands accused of shooting to death 36-year-old Todd Brooks, a self-employed businessman and a community volunteer baseball and football coach, at the Johnson residence off the Wrens Highway near Thomson on Nov. 22, 2006. Charges against Mr. Johnson include felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes, court records show.
But his first brush with the law came in February 2003.
A deputy with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department took Mr. Johnson and another man into custody following a traffic stop on Feb.11, 2003, court records reveal. Mr. Johnson was driving a green 1985 Toyota 4-Runner with a license plate that should have been displayed on a white truck. That matter was cleared with a warning after Mr. Johnson explained he had recently painted the vehicle.
But cocaine and methamphetamines were reportedly found during a subsequent search of the vehicle conducted by Thomson Police Department Sgt. Jared Land. Sgt. Land also reported finding a cache of drugs in his patrol car after Mr. Johnson and his passenger were taken to jail.
Those charges were later dismissed in April of 2004 by Judge E. Purnell Davis II following a motion from Mr. Johnson's attorney, Jacque Hawk.
Judge Davis agreed with Mr. Hawk's request to suppress certain evidence, saying officers held Mr. Johnson and his passenger at the scene too long and conducted too intense a search in connection with a simple traffic stop.
"While the police are authorized under limited conditions to stop a vehicle where no violation of the law has occurred, they are strictly limited in such investigation to satisfying the basis of their concern," Judge Davis wrote in his order. "The state is not free to adopt a scheme or pattern of stopping citizens who have not violated the law for the express purpose of seeking permission to search their vehicle."
On two other occasions, Mr. Johnson has faced arrests. Again, neither one of them ever led to a conviction.
He was arrested on Feb. 18, 2004 on a theft charge, court records show. That particular case, however, was dismissed on June 24, 2005.
Then on Aug. 10, 2004, Mr. Johnson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery. A grand jury later decided to "no bill" the case - which means jury members decided not to pursue the case against Mr. Johnson, court records show.