Bradenton murder trial for man charged with killing pregnant woman in home invasion delayed until November

kirby@bradenton.comJuly 14, 2014 

Houston

BRADENTON -- The man charged with murdering a 19-year-old Bradenton woman and her unborn child has been delayed until November.

Everrick Houston was the second man charged in connection with the slaying of Crystal Johnson during a home invasion on July 12, 2009. His trial was supposed to start this week, but has been delayed until Nov. 17 after the judge Monday granted a defense request for a continuance.

Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer declined to comment on why the defense asked for the delay.

Crystal Johnson was shot when at least two armed men stormed into the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, mother and younger sister. Gunfire was exchanged between Johnson's boyfriend and the gunmen.

Johnson later died at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Her baby, Lariah Funsch, was delivered by emergency C-section but died eight hours later at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

The case has been drawn out after the State Attorney's Office had to drop charges in 2010 after a judge ruled deputies had illegally seized Houston's bloodied clothes, which contained DNA that investigators say linked him to the crime, when he went to the hospital for a gunshot wound.

But investigators were able to obtain a legal sample after Houston went to prison on drug-related charges, and the case resumed. Now the continuance will push the case back again.

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

Investigators believe there is a third suspect, but they have never been able to identify anyone, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow.

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