Saturday, August 26, 2000

Detective: Man claimed self-defense

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A police detective said in court Friday that Lavell Hamilton told him he fatally shot Christopher Darnell Johnson in self-defense.

        Hamilton Police Detective Steve Rogers quoted Mr. Hamilton as saying, “I know you guys think I shot him like an animal, but I shot him in self-defense.”

        Hamilton Municipal Court Judge John Rosmarin sent the case to a Butler County grand jury. He ordered Mr. Hamilton to continue to be held at the Butler County Jail without bond.

        The 39-year-old Hamilton resident is charged with murder. He is accused of killing Mr. Johnson during an argument Aug. 9 in the 1900 block of Dixie Highway in Hamilton.

        Mr. Hamilton was arrested Aug. 13 after a four-day manhunt. Detective Rogers said Mr. Hamil ton made the remark to him about the shooting after he waived his Miranda rights.

        But after the remark, Mr. Hamilton asked for an attorney, and the interview ended, he said.

        Seven people saw the shooting, and no one said that Mr. Johnson had a gun, Detective Rogers said.

        Mr. Johnson was a crack cocaine dealer, but the shooting had nothing to do with drugs, he said.

        Witnesses said that when Mr. Hamilton walked into the trailer where the argument took place, Mr. Johnson and another man were in a fistfight, Detective Rogers said. He told Mr. Johnson to stop and shot him in the chest, he said.

        The bullet went through Mr. Johnson's heart, went out his back, ricocheted off one wall and lodged in another wall, he said.

        Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Johnson had served multiple prison terms. Mr. Hamilton had been convicted of theft, aggravated robbery and weapons charges. Mr. Johnson had been convicted of drug possession and aggravated assault.

        Detective Rogers said a woman who lied to police about Mr. Hamilton's whereabouts after the shooting has been charged with obstructing justice.


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