Pauls Valley Democrat
One former defendant took the stand Tuesday to describe his part in a 2010 beating death that now has his friend on trial for manslaughter.
A seven-woman, five-man jury heard testimony in the trial for 37-year-old James Justin Johnson, better known as J.J., as the first day of testimony stretched into Tuesday afternoon in a Pauls Valley courtroom.
Once faced with a murder charge, Johnson is now on trial for first-degree manslaughter after former conviction of five or more felonies for his alleged part in the beating death of Chad Sims back on Sept. 22, 2010 at a Wynnewood residence.
Also originally charged in the case was Roland Hatley, 41, who last December pleaded guilty to an amended manslaughter charge and received a 20-year prison sentence.
During Tuesday’s testimony Hatley told jurors more details about the fight that resulted in Sims’ death.
According to Hatley, it was Sims who started the whole thing by making fun of a friend of both Hatley and Johnson, Justin Moody, who resided in the house and is confined to a wheelchair.
“He was jerking on his chair trying to knock him out,” Hatley said.
“I reached out for Mr. Sims and I wound up slapping him,” he said, adding Sims was pushed down onto a couch.
After Johnson was pulled off of Sims, Hatley said things calmed down for a few minutes.
“That’s when we got back into it,” Hatley testified. “Mr. Sims cussed and me and J.J., he struck me and we went to fighting.
“We were going around and around there in the living room.”
Hatley described how he was using straight punching and side strikes to attack Sims.
At one point Sims was back on the couch, where Hatley claimed Johnson appeared to be striking the man before he was again pulled off.
Hatley, who then left the Wynnewood residence, said he found out the next day from a TV newscast that Sims had died from injuries sustained in the fight. He then contacted local police and admitted to his involvement in the fight with Sims.
With prosecutors resting the state’s case, a defense for Johnson is expected to begin Wednesday morning.