Tyler man's murder conviction upheld by appeals court - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Tyler man's murder conviction upheld by appeals court

Justin Johnson. Photo Source: Smith County Jail Justin Johnson. Photo Source: Smith County Jail

The 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler upheld the 2012 murder conviction of a Tyler man on Wednesday. 

In March 2012, Justin Antwon Johnson was found guilty of fatally stabbing Willis Warfield, 62, outside the Valley Blues Club in Tyler in May 2011. During the trial, Johnson testified that he and Warfield exchanged words outside the club after Johnson confronted Warfield about firing shots into Johnson's mother's home. Warfield had been dating Johnson's mother on and off for several years.

During the confrontation, Johnson said he thought Warfield, who he considered to be a 'dangerous man,' was attempting to pull a knife out of his pocket, at which point he pulled a knife out of his own pocket and stabbed Warfield twice. 

During the trial, Johnson attempted to give testimony that he knew about Warfield's violent past and his propensity to carry a knife. Prosecutors objected and the court sustained the objection. The jury found Johnson guilty and sentenced him to 33 years in prison.

Johnson appealed, saying that the court erred when it sustained the State's objection to his testimony about Warfield being dangerous and attempting to pull out a knife. 

The appeals court upheld the trial court's decision, saying that Johnson's description of reaching for a weapon described an "unambiguous act" and that evidence of Warfield's character and prior acts of violence was not necessary to explain Warfield's actions.

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