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Alleged shooter to go on trial

MANATEE -- The trial of a man accused of shooting and killing a 19-year-old pregnant woman during a botched home invasion last year is set to begin with jury selection Monday at the Manatee County courthouse.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Gregory “Kush” Kennon, 23, because they believe he was one of possibly three intruders who broke down a door at Desoto Village Apartments, 3810 Fifth St. E., on July 12, 2009.

Shots were fired, with one striking Crystal Johnson, who was six months pregnant at the time, in the chest, according to arrest reports.

Johnson’s boyfriend, Lawrence Funsch, returned fire, wounding Kennon and his alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Everrick Houston.

Kennon’s blood was found on the sidewalk. Houston’s blood was also found nearby outside the apartment, according to investigators.

Kennon is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and armed burglary.

Charges against Houston were dropped earlier this month after a judge ruled the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies illegally took his DNA from his bloodied clothes at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Prosecutors said they plan to re-file murder charges against Houston once they are able to legally obtain his DNA.

Johnson died early that morning, but doctors were able to deliver her baby. The infant girl died eight hours later at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Detectives never arrested a third suspect in the case. It’s possible only two gunmen were involved, but one witness told authorities there were three gunmen.

“We were never able to ascertain if there was a third person or not,” said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Sgt. Pete Rampone.

After investigators found drugs inside the apartment, Funsch was arrested on several drug-related charges. He is set to go to trial in March.