Scott Miller seemed resigned to his fate when he heard footsteps behind him, as he walked down a dark alley with Costa Mesa white supremacist Billy Joe Johnson late on the night of March 8, 2002, a former gang member told jurors Thursday.
Two members of the Public Enemy Number One gang, also known as PEN1, were waiting there to shoot Miller in the back of the head with a 9-millimeter handgun, former white supremacist gang member Donald McLaughlan testified on the second day of Johnson’s trial in Orange County Superior Court.
“Are those PEN1 guys?” Miller asked Johnson as they walked down the alley, according to his testimony.
Johnson told McLaughlan that he had been upset that Michael Allen Lamb and Jacob Anthony Rump shot Miller once in the back of the head, instead of facing their target head on, McLaughlan said.
The prosecution contends that the gang members killed Miller after he gave an interview to a television news film crew about PEN1.
“Because Mr. Miller was a dear friend at one time, he [Johnson] felt he should have took it basically head on, look him in the eyes and give him a good run,” McLaughlan said.
Wearing a blue plaid shirt, his mohawk slicked back flat against his shaved scalp, Johnson sat in the courtroom Thursday, occasionally turning to talk with defense attorney Michael Molfetta during the court proceedings.
Molfetta questioned McLaughlan’s credibility, calling him a “thief and a liar” who got out of trouble by “snitching” on his friends.
Molfetta asked McLaughlan what kind of friend Johnson had been to him.
“When you were having problems with your wife or girlfriend, or if you were having problems with money, he would be there,” McLaughlan responded.
If convicted, Johnson could face the death penalty for his alleged role in Miller’s slaying.
Lamb and Rump, the two other gang members who ambushed Miller, were convicted in 2007 for their roles in his murder. Rump was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A judge sentenced Lamb to death.
Johnson was charged with murder after he testified at Lamb and Rump’s trial in 2007 that he alone killed Miller.
The prosecution contends he wanted to take the blame for Miller’s slaying because it would earn him status as a “martyr” in the gang.
Johnson is already serving 45 years to life in prison for an unrelated murder, in which he bludgeoned the victim to death with a claw hammer.