Judge: Maurice Johnson to receive new defense counsel
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Mar 23, 2014 | 1004 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The man convicted in the triple-homicide of three local people will receive new defense counsel, according to the new judge in the case.

Special Judge Don Ash was appointed to hear motions in the case against Maurice Johnson, who was in court Friday regarding the 1999 Valentine’s Day murders.

O.J. Blair, Dawn Rogers and Cayci Higgins were killed Feb. 14, 1999, inside their apartment just off 20th Street N.E.

The three were found shot to death. A fourth alleged victim, Twanna “Tart” Blair was wounded.

Johnson was convicted in August 2009. Two others, Michael “Money” Younger, and Twanna Blair, who was O.J. Blair’s cousin, were also arrested and charged in the murders; however, a mistrial was declared in the Younger trial and Twanna Blair’s trial ended with a hung jury.

Johnson was convicted and sentenced to three life sentences without parole.

Ash will hear motions in June regarding initial discovery, some footprint comparison evidence from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and blood sample comparisons, after new defense counsel is set, according to prosecuting assistant District Attorney General Richard Fisher.

“Right now, until a new defense counsel is obtained, everything has been put on hold until June,” Fisher said.

Ash took over the case as judge after the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals noted that Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy should recuse herself.

Public Defender Richard Hughes was handling Johnson’s defense and his post-conviction relief efforts.

Hughes, in the past, had reportedly represented a witness in the case, but that witness did not provide testimony during the trial when Johnson was convicted, resulting in the judge’s decision to provide new defense counsel.