LaQueena Deelisa Brown pleaded guilty Sept. 16 for her involvement in the May 2017 slaying of James Johnson in Loudon.
Brown of Dayton received 22 years in jail, with credit for time served, for facilitation of first-degree murder during a felony robbery. She agreed to offer testimony against Christopher Blake Orr of Ooltewah and Clarence Montrell Porter of Chattanooga, the others involved in the slaying.
“It’s a victory for the victim, the victim’s family, for them to get part of this behind them,” Russell Johnson, 9th Judicial District attorney general, said. “To be able to have this day in court, to come give their victim impact and hopefully that’s a step in the process for them, and then also it’s a step in the process as we mentioned from a prosecution standpoint to pin down her guilty plea and her proffered testimony that we will have against the other two going forward.”
Loudon Police Officer Marty Ward arrived on the scene at 3:34 p.m. May 10, 2017, at 201 Hill St., Loudon, for what was initially believed to be a possible heart attack and then thought a possible suicide. Law enforcement later deemed the death a homicide.
Loudon Police Inv. Brian Jenkins in a previous interview said there was a “squabble” over money Johnson allegedly owed Brown. She then recruited two men to help her get the money.
Johnson hoped the sentencing gave Johnson’s family some closure.
“Death is a natural part of life,” Janie Johnson, James’ sister, said during the hearing. “Jim was not taken from us by natural causes. Jim was violently ripped from our family. You didn’t destroy Jim’s life, you destroyed our entire family. We had experienced a grief so great it is only by God’s grace that we don’t completely shatter. As for myself, you’ve left me with a life filled with what-ifs. What if I had stopped by more often instead of calling and texting? Would I have even known of your existence? Would I have been able to intervene? What if I had left work earlier that day when Jim didn’t respond to my text? What if, what if? The most devastating is this — the final memory I have of my baby brother is finding his lifeless body.”
Brown’s sentencing was “one down, two to go,” Janie said. She thanked those involved in Brown’s sentencing.
James’ daughter, Ashley Martin, also spoke during the hearing.
“If it had not been for me having the daddy that I did, I would not be able to say to you that I hope you hear Jesus calling,” Martin said. “I hope that you answer and you get his forgiveness and his love. For he is the way, the truth and the life and the only one that could truly save you. As Jesus is the son of God, I am my father’s daughter and he would have me tell you and implore you to know Jesus loves you anyway.”
Brown was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, theft over $1,000 but less than $2,500 and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“It was a tough case,” Walter Johnson, Brown’s attorney, said. “All these cases are tragedies. It’s hard for everybody.”
Russell Johnson said Orr’s hearing is scheduled for May 11, while Porter’s is set for June 1.
“Kind of wait and see what happens now that the other co-defendants realize that she has pled guilty and accepted responsibility and is set to testify for the state essentially in their trials,” he said.