Jury finds Tiawain Johnson not guilty in 2012 murder

By KBJR News 1

May 23, 2014 Updated May 24, 2014 at 9:25 AM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - A jury has found a Tiawain Johnson not guilty of murdering a Superior man in January of 20-12.

22-year-old Tiawain Johnson hugged his attorney as the verdict of not guilty was read.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about two and half hours tonight before returning the verdict.

Johnson has been acquitted of first degree intentional homicide charges in the shooting death of Toriano Cooper in Superior in January of 2012.

Prosecutor Dan Blank argued that Johnson was robbed by Cooper a week prior to the murder, and that the shooting was done in revenge.

"That's who confessed, that's who had the motive, that's who knew the action, that's who had the gun, that's who went around town looking for Snapper, that's what this case is all about, the identification of Tiawain Johnson as the murderer," said Blank during two hours of closing arguments.

The defense has repeatedly claimed that a third party was involved in the shooting.

Defense Attorney Aaron Nelson argued that Michael Hawkins, one of the state's witnesses, committed the murder.

During closing arguments, Nelson claimed that the robbery at Johnson's home was of Hawkins drugs and money, and Hawkins had all the motivation to murder Cooper.

"You've got the wrong man. I didn't kill anybody. I didn't shoot anybody.. Those are the words of Tiawain Johnson. You've got the wrong man,"said Nelson during closing arguments.

The state called several inmates to testify throughout the week who claimed that Johnson confessed to the killing of Cooper.

The defense questioned their credibility to the jury, saying they were receiving plea bargains in exchange for testimony.

The jury ultimately agreed with the defense, finding Johnson not guilty of first degree murder.

"Obviously it's great for us, it's always- there's no good result in a case in which somebody's died and I hope that the Cooper family can get the real shooter at some point but glad to know that Mr. Johnson's been found not guilty because it wasn't him," said Aaron Nelson, Tiawain Johnson's Defense Attorney.

"This case had a little bit of everything. Very different, difficult package of witnesses for the state to present. We thought we had a lot of good pieces that were able to come together for the overall picture of guilty but we were wrong," said Prosecutor Dan Blank

Dan Blank says the case had no smoking gun and no scientific evidence. Blank said the jury had to rely on testimony alone, and that several of his witnesses had a fair amount of baggage and it was not easy to listen to their testimony.

Following the acquittal, Tiawain Johnson was excited and told us that he was going home.

Defense Attorney Aaron Nelson says he is relieved and glad the jury had the courage to do the right thing and find that justice was done in this case.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati