Shooter Arkansas school massacre is convicted on weapons charge - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shooter Arkansas school massacre is convicted on weapons charge

Mitchell Johnson (file photo) Mitchell Johnson (file photo)
Still image from dashcam video of Johnson's arrest. Still image from dashcam video of Johnson's arrest.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Federal jurors convicted Mitchell Johnson on a weapons charge Tuesday, apparently unaware that 10 years ago he and another boy killed four classmates and a teacher in a schoolyard ambush at Jonesboro.

The 23-year-old Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in the next 45 days. Prosecutors cited an obscure federal law to convict Johnson, saying he possessed a 9mm handgun while also either being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance.

Through his attorney, Johnston declined comment.

Government lawyers did not bring up Johnson's violent past. The only clue during the two-day trial came during jury selection, when potential panelists were asked one-by-one whether Johnson's name sounded familiar.

Mitch Wright, the widower of a teacher killed March 25, 1998, watched Tuesday's court session along with his son Zane, who was 2 at the time of the shootings and is now 12. Wright said the boy "wanted to see what this person looked like."

Washington County deputies stopped Johnson January 1st, 2007, after receiving a tip that a van he was in carried 100 pounds of marijuana. Deputies found only 21 grams of the drug but also found a nickel-plated handgun and a shotgun.

The state deferred prosecution to the federal government, which had held Johnson until age 21 after the Jonesboro shootings. At the time of the schoolyard massacre, Arkansas had the means only to hold Johnson and classmate Andrew Golden until age 18.

While prosecutors presented evidence that Johnson regularly used marijuana and possessed a gun when he was stopped in 2007, the defense offered drug tests that showed no drug usage by Johnson and testimony from witnesses who said they had never seen Johnson use drugs or possess drug paraphernalia.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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