Man guilty in Homestead murder

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

The de­fense tried to ar­gue that Wil­bert John­son fired the shot that killed Qaeed Brax­ton in self-de­fense.

But, the pros­e­cu­tion quickly dis­agreed.

“He shot a man in the mid­dle of the back,” said as­sis­tant dis­trict at­tor­ney Wil­liam Pet­ulla. “It was a di­rect shot in the mid­dle of the back.

“This case is first-de­gree mur­der.”

The jury agreed and quickly re­turned that ver­dict.

John­son will be sen­tenced to a man­da­tory term of life in prison with­out pa­role by Com­mon Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel on Mon­day.

Brax­ton, 36, of Duquesne was shot and killed as he left the Rag­time Saloon on Am­ity Street in Homestead on Sept. 22.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Pet­ulla, a man with Brax­ton had be­gun dat­ing John­son’s ex-girl­friend. There was an ar­gu­ment in­side the bar, and a short time later John­son fol­lowed the group out­side.

He quickly re­trieved a gun from his ve­hi­cle and fired, the pros­e­cu­tion said.

Less than 90 sec­onds later, ac­cord­ing to sur­veil­lance foot­age in the area, John­son was back in his car and leav­ing the scene.

At least twice be­fore, Mr. Pet­ulla told the jury dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments, John­son told his ex-girl­friend, “ ‘If I can’t have you, no­body can have you.’ ”

“He was go­ing to kill any­one who stood in the way of his be­ing with [her].”

Mr. Pet­ulla also pointed to the de­fen­dant’s chang­ing story when he was in­ter­viewed by county de­tec­tives. At first, Mr. John­son said he wasn’t there at all. Then, he said he wasn’t in­volved. And in the third ver­sion, he claimed self-de­fense.

But Anne Marie Man­cuso, who rep­re­sented John­son, told the jury they couldn’t spec­u­late about what hap­pened.

“They want you to con­vict Mr. John­son be­cause when they first in­ter­view him, he wasn’t truth­ful,” she said. “Well, ly­ing to the po­lice does not equate to crim­i­nal ho­mi­cide.”

In­stead, she con­tin­ued, “There’s a real fear that, not for one sec­ond are the po­lice go­ing to be­lieve you. Po­lice re­la­tions are a lot dif­fer­ent in Homestead than in Wex­ford, Fox Chapel, the North Hills or West View.”

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-ga­, 412-263-2620 or on Twit­ter: @Pau­laReedWard.

Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here