BRADENTON -- A Bradenton man this afternoon was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Crystal Johnson and her unborn child.
The jury deliberated for about three hours, before the verdict was announced at 1:45 p.m. Friday. Gregory Kennon was then sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole.
Kennon's lawyers put their arms around him as the verdict was read.
After the verdict was read, several members of Kennon's family left the courtroom. The judge had warned family members not to show emotion in the courtoom.
There were at least 13 sheriff's deputies in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.
Family members spoke after the guilty verdict was read.
Johnson's mother, Susan Moore, spoke outside the courtroom.
"I hope that (Kennon) has the chance of missing his son as much as I have missed my daughter," Moore said. "I just hope that his life is as much hell as mine."
Moore said she doesn't celebrate holidays anymore and spends a lot of time decorating her daughter's grave.
The trial, which started Tuesday, went into closing arguments Thursday after the defense said it would not call anyone to the stand.
Lawrence Funsch, the victim’s boyfriend, testified Thursday.
As he dabbed tears from his eyes with a tissue, Funsch recalled the moments that led to ohnson’s slaying on July 12, 2009, including how he tried to save her life with CPR.
He was lying down on a bed in his girlfriend’s apartment in DeSoto Village on Fifth Street East at about 1:20 a.m. when he heard three kicks at the front door and shots fired.
Johnson, who was six months pregnant, tried to run into the bathroom, but was struck by the hail of bullets. She and their unborn baby, Lariah, died.
“She was my girl,” Funsch said.
Funsch fired back at the gunmen. But during initial interviews with detectives, Funsch lied about shooting the men and owning a gun because he is a felon.
“I just had my girl and my baby murdered,” he said. “So what else do you expect me to do? Do you think I’m going to sit there, tell the truth and go to jail?”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Colleen Glenn asked Funsch to read the transcript of his interviews with detectives to show he had lied several times under oath. Glenn said he lied about owning the gun, he lied about where the gun was located, where he kept drugs and where he had seen the gunmen run.
Funsch cut Glenn off several times to the point where Judge Janette Dunnigan intervened. “Mr. Funsch, this process is orderly,” she said.
When Glenn asked him if a nightlight was on in the apartment’s living room, Funsch said, “Are you serious? Do you know how fast that happened?”
“I don’t want you to ask the questions,” Glenn said. “I want you to answer the questions.”
During closing arguments, prosecutor Art Brown said Kennon was a “full-fledged participant in the armed burglary that led to the deaths of Crystal Johnson and Lariah Funsch.”
He reminded the jury that during the execution of a search warrant, detectives found a magazine for a 10-millimeter pistol in Kennon’s car. Bullet casings of that kind were found at the scene. Brown also said Kennon’s blood was found outside the apartment.
“I submit to you that is his blood and that there is no credible scenarios by which his blood got to that location at that time other than he himself had been there,” Brown said. “His blood, his bullet casings unmistakably tied him to that scene of death.”
During defense attorney Colleen Glenn’s closing statements, she reminded the jury that minutes after the fatal shooting, three men, including Everrick Houston, arrived at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Houston had been shot. None of them with him were identified as Kennon.
“They were never, ever investigated again,” she said.
Glenn also said that Manatee County Sheriff’s Office homicide detective Jeffrey Bliss did not obtain “at least eight, possibly nine,” surveillance videos from nearby businesses.
As for Kennon’s blood at the scene, Glenn said, “Nobody testified as to how or when those drops arrived.”
Funsch said he fired three times. If Kennon had been shot, Glenn said, “one of those bullets would have had his DNA all over it.”
She also reminded the jury of Funsch’s lies during interviews.
“He is a drug dealer who carries a gun,” she said. “Nothing that Lawrence Funsch says is credible at all.”
During his rebuttal, Brown said that if all the pieces of evidence linking Kennon to the crime were coincidences, “he would have to be the unluckiest guy in the world.”
During testimony, ABC 7 meteorologist Bob Harrigan said that on July 9, there were “repeated rainfall and heavy storms” in the area of DeSoto Village.
“Blood isn’t going to remain on an exterior surface when you have heavy rains,” Brown said. “So we’ve got a two-day window right off the start.”
As to why Kennon was not at the hospital with Houston, Brown said, “Mr. Houston only went there because he had no choice” since he had a collapsed lung.
“The evidence interweaves and creates an unmistakable, compelling, unquestionable case about his guilt,” Brown said.