Trial underway for Tyler man accused of forcing friend to commit murder

Testimony began Tuesday in the criminal trial of a Tyler man who prosecutors say influenced a friend to stab a Kilgore woman to death in 2021.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 11:25 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:04 PM CDT

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Testimony began Tuesday in the criminal trial of Kendall Damaal Johnson of Tyler, who prosecutors say influenced a friend to stab Lashekia Shardae Kenney to death in September of 2021.

That friend, Calvin Marcelus Anderson of Henderson, pleaded guilty to murder in January, but will not be sentenced until a verdict in the Johnson trial.

In opening arguments, the prosecution said Johnson and Anderson were friends and fraternity brothers as well as Freemasons.

“Kendall Johnson is guilty of murder just as if he had been holding that knife that night,” said Gregg County Prosecutor Tanya Reed.

The defense said Anderson changed his story several times and can’t be trusted.

“They want you to believe this solely based on the testimony of a murderer with nothing but self- interest and no remorse,” said Defense Attorney Brandt Thorson.

A recording of the 911 call was played first, then a former Kilgore police officer who worked the case took the stand to describe the crime scene. Anderson then took the stand, and the prosecution asked what Johnson offered him to kill Kenney.

“Money, cars, investments in my business and stuff like that,” Anderson said.

“Did he indicate to you how much money?” asked Reed.

“$10,000,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he was confused as to why Johnson asked him to kill.

“I don’t hurt people,” Anderson said.

“But you did still kill, correct?” Reed asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Anderson said.

Anderson said before the murder he feared Johnson. The prosecutor asked Anderson how Johnson decided what was going to happen. Anderson said Johnson told him, “We’re going to do this. I’m going to have it set up. And when I pick you up, we’re going to go do it.”

Trial underway for Tyler man accused of forcing friend to commit murder

On September 2, Anderson said Johnson drove them to Kenny’s residence in Kilgore.

“Tell me what you did,” Reed said.

“I pretty much go up behind her and stabbed her,” Anderson said.

Several times during questioning Anderson admitted to killing Kenney. The defense asked about Anderson’s statement to the District Attorney. Anderson said he tried to tell them the best truth.

“The whole truth is different than the best truth in my opinion. Is it different to you?” Thorson asked.

“No, it’s the same. The whole and the best is the same thing,” Anderson said.

“Well, you told five or six different stories, correct?” Thorson said.

“Correct,” Anderson said.

Cell phone texts leading up to the murder were also shown to the jury.

The defense also established that Anderson did not go to authorities with information about the planned murder before it happened. The trial resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m. with more testimony.

Our story on the trial of Calvin Anderson can be read here.