SIDNEY — Troy Delano McRae Jr., 34, of Sidney, was found guilty of aggravated murder by a 12-person jury. McRae was accused of stabbing to death Lance Johnson, 38, of Sidney, during a burglary of Johnson’s apartment on North Miami Avenue. The jurors received the case around 4 p.m. on Wednesday and returned their verdict around 6:15 p.m.
Johnson was found dead in his apartment after being stabbed 10 times on March 12, 2017, with law enforcement concluding that the assailant was looking for money or drugs, as testimony given during the trial said that Johnson was known to sell drugs. McRae was arrested for Johnson’s death on March 22. The trial started Monday in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
Jurors heard testimony earlier in the day from Aisha Martin, McRae’s girlfriend at the time; Johnson’s brother, Trey Majors; Johnson’s friend, Aaron Lawson; Amy Swiger, who had been with McRae earlier on the night of March 12; Joslyn Haithcock, who is Martin’s daughter; Don Alexander, McRae’s employer in March; Lima Police officer Matt Boss; and Tim Augsback, forensic DNA analyst for the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI).
In his closing statements, Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell called Martin’s testimony “damming.” Martin gave an emotional testimony to the jurors, explaining how McRae told her he killed Johnson, and had cut his hand on the knife during the incident.
“He told me he was scared and they were in a tussle, and he pulled it out and stabbed him,” she said.
Martin appeared via subpoena and was visibly emotional about her testimony. She said that she was scared to not say what happened because police warned her she could be prosecuted for withholding information.
Martin’s daughter, Haithcock, also testified. She explained how the defendant used Facebook Messenger to contact her around 9 a.m., Monday, March 13, asking for her to come get him, and that it was an “emergency.”
“He had asked me to come and pick him up, and I said no,” she testified. “A couple days later, my mom called me from the hospital in Lima and she asked me to meet somewhere. She had him in the car, and asked me to meet at the McDonalds in Lima. He never really said anything.”
Jurors also heard about how Lima Police found McRae in a closet in Lima on March 22.
“There were three females living there,” Officer Boss testified. “Two denied knowing him, and the third was coming down the stairs and said (McRae) was upstairs hiding in a closet.”
Jurors also heard from Augsback, who’s worked the case as a DNA analyst, and was able to tell the court that the ten blood DNA samples submitted from the apartment matched McRae’s DNA, with one chance in a trillion that it was somebody else’s DNA.
During his closing arguments, Sell noted the significance of that information.
“We don’t have someone there who witnessed this,” he said. “This could be someone else’s blood, but it’s one in a trillion odds.”
Sell also noted that Johnson’s murder was not accidental, as he was stabbed twice through the heart with enough force to bruise the skin surrounding the wounds. He also noted that while it was possible for the blood matched to McRae around the crime scene to have been spread by police, Johnson or other people on the scene, it was not likely.
McRae did not testify, and his lawyer, Andrew Venters, did not present any witnesses.
During his closing statements, Venters suggested to the jury that since there are no eyewitnesses, there is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that McRae was guilty.
“There’s a lot of blood that wasn’t tested,” he said. “No one can confirm what happened.”
No sentencing date has been set.
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