Man accused of shooting Durham teens out on bond

Mar. 27, 2014 @ 09:59 AM

A man accused of shooting two teen brothers at a vacant house was released on bond Wednesday after bail was cut from $1.5 million to $5,000.

Christopher Taylor Johnson is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of the boys – 14 and 16. The victims were riddled with bullets, but survived.

Johnson’s release follows an agreement between the Durham County District Attorney’s Office and Johnson’s new attorney, Sean Ramkaransingh.

Last week, Johnson’s attorney, Lisa Williams, withdrew from the case, saying the defendant’s supporters had threatened and investigated her and interfered in the case.

The hearing in Durham County Superior Court included a tense exchange between community activist Victoria Peterson, who supports Johnson, and Judge Howard Manning.

Peterson tried to address the judge from the court gallery after her name was included among those who allegedly interfered in the case, but Manning cut her off, saying her comments were out of order.

Also at the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Stormy Ellis said Peterson and others had interfered in the case. Ellis said she planned to speak with police about possibly bringing witness intimidation charges.

Several members of Johnson’s family were at the hearing and left in tears, saying his $1.5 million bond was unfair. They claim police arrested the wrong man.

In an interview Wednesday, Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols said the bond reduction was the result of an agreement between his office and the defense, but he declined to elaborate.

He said Johnson’s next hearing is set for the week of April 7.

Durham police arrested Johnson, 25, in December and charged him with shooting the teens at a vacant house on Grace Lane in East Durham. Also charged in the shootings is Thomas Deangelo Griffin, 19, who remained in the Durham County Jail Wednesday under a $1 million bond.