Defense rests in re-sentencing for Rayshawn Johnson

Rayshawn Johnson (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)
Rayshawn Johnson (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The re-sentencing of Rayshawn Johnson continued Monday as the jury heard testimony from family members and a clinical psychologist specializing in addictions.

Johnson was found guilty and given the death penalty for murdering his neighbor, Shanon Marks, in 1997. An appeals court ordered a new sentencing, saying Johnson's lawyers didn't fully investigate his abusive childhood.

Johnson's conviction in 1998 for murdering Marks, 29, stands.

Jurors will have to accept that he was convicted. But they will have to decide on a new sentence based on what they hear in the current trial. They cannot be told that he was sentenced to die by the first jury.

Dr. Robert Smith says he sat down with Johnson on two occasions: once in 1999 and again in 2010. Smith says after talking with Johnson, reviewing documents, and analyzing psychological testing he diagnosed Rayshawn with alcohol dependence, cannabis dependence, and depression. Smith does not, however, believe Johnson suffers from any anti-social personality disorder.

When asked by the defense if Johnson had any disciplinary records during his 14 years in jail, Dr. Smith confirmed through prison documents that he had not.

In addition to the testimony from Johnson' mother and grandmother, the jury also heard from Johnson's son.

"Please don't kill my father, please …for real," Rayshawn's 14-year-old son pleaded to the jury. "Please don't kill him, please. He's all I got left."

Following his son's testimony Johnson took the stand, reading a prepared statement that included an apology to the Marks' family.

"I have absolutely no excuse for the crime that I have committed," Johnson said. "I offer my deepest and most sincere apology. I was a very different man 14 years ago."

Johnson talked about how his troubled childhood impacted his own path towards drug addiction.

"The only guidance I had was that of a drug addicted mother who encouraged me to use drugs and alcohol at the age of 11," Johnson said choking back tears. "It wasn't long after I was introduced and even encouraged to use drugs by, of all people, my own mother that I found my life consumed with obtaining drugs and alcohol to escape the reality that was my life."

He went on to talk about how his faith has given him new purpose in life to reach out to troubled young men who are struggling with addiction.

The trial will continue Tuesday morning with closing arguments.

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