New murder charges filed in slaying of pregnant Bradenton woman

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- Murder charges have been filed again against a 31-year-old man accused of killing a 19-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn baby during a 2009 home invasion.

Everrick Houston, 31, was transported to Manatee County jail from a federal prison Tuesday afternoon and charged for a second time in the slaying of Crystal Johnson and her unborn baby at the Desoto Village Apartments at 3810 Fifth St. E., Bradenton.

A grand jury indicted Houston on two counts of first-degree capital murder and armed burglary April 22. Houston had been serving a federal prison sentence for drug charges with a projected release date of Oct. 8, 2014.

Johnson was shot in the early morning hours of July 12, 2009, and died shortly after at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Her baby, Lariah Funsch, was delivered by emergency C-section and taken to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg where she died eight hours later.

For Johnson's family the new charges signified the possibility of bittersweet justice.

"In one way we are happy and in another way we are sad," mother Susan Moore said. "I don't know what the outcome is going to be but I hope he gets the same thing (Gregory) Kennon got, so another mother doesn't have to cross the line that I did."

Gregory Kennon, 25, was a second defendant in the case. Kennon was convicted Feb. 17, 2012, on two counts of murder and armed burglary and later sentenced to life in prison. He is appealing the sentence.

Houston was originally charged with the murders July 17, 2009, but was released when a judge ruled police gathered evidence without a necessary warrant. Houston was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound just hours after he allegedly killed Johnson.

Houston's gunshot wound was believed to be a result of shots fired by Lawrence Funsch, Johnson's fiancé and the baby's father.

"Thank God her boyfriend had a gun, or else none of us would be here today to fight for Crystal," Moore said.

A judge later ruled police illegally obtained blood samples linking Houston to the crime scene from bloodied clothes while he was in the hospital.

"I just want justice for them," Moore said. "The most saddest part was the day they dropped the charges."

This time, blood samples were obtained legally while Houston was in prison, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow. All federal prisoners give blood samples, which are run through a DNA database. Officials say Houston's blood matches that found at the scene of the crime.

The news of the renewed indictment was relief for a mother who said she still cries for the loss of her daughter and granddaughter.

"Every holiday has changed," Moore said. "Fourth of July was the last holiday I spent with Crystal."

It will be four years next month since the deadly assault.

"I tell people, I've been to hell, now it's time for me to go heaven," Moore said. "I ask God for one more thing: Give Houston justice."

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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