Malcolm Franklin took the stand Thursday in his murder trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court, telling the jury he did shoot and kill one person and wound two others in May 2017, but he did so in self defense.
The 28-year-old from Baton Rouge, La., told the jury he was studying architecture in Louisiana and moved to Middletown after the school closed and friends told him about job opportunities and the “girls.”
“There was a lot of talk about the girls,” he said. “No hurricanes here.”
He began living with a female friend, but there were soon issues with the father of her child, he said. Those issues escalated to threats made on social media involving Julian Johnson, who Franklin admitted he shot and killed on May 30, 2017, outside D&J’s Nite Spot.
Franklin said he purchased a gun because threats were made against him and his friend’s family.
On the night of the shooting, Franklin said he was attending a house party in Middletown and went on a run to get more alcohol and marijuana.
Franklin said he wanted to talk to Johnson to tell him he had nothing to do with any of the problems. After passing the packed bar several times, he said he asked to be dropped off.
“I am not even from here,” he said he wanted to tell the 23-year-old Johnson.
He didn’t enter the bar because he was aware there may be guns and drugs inside. Instead, he said he went through the parking lot by the Dumpsters, where he urinated and then began talking to his girlfriend on the phone.
That is when he heard people come out onto the patio and he walked to the fence to talk to Johnson.
“I say, ‘Hey man, what’s up? I heard you want to kill me,” Franklin told the jury.
He said Johnson’s answer was: “Boy, I ‘ought to.”
Then there was a shot.
Franklin said he pulled out his gun and started “running and shooting.”
He said he wasn’t aiming the gun at anyone.
“I shot while I ran,” Franklin said, adding that he was in fear for his life.
“I feel I was protecting myself,” he said.
After the shooting, Franklin said he threw the gun in a flower bed because he was just in “a shoot out” and was walking down the street with a gun.
“He shot at me first,” Franklin answered when asked why he shot Johnson.
During cross examination, Franklin admitted he had never talked to or seen Johnson before approaching him at the bar. He also said he did not see a gun in Johnson’s hand when he talked to him at the fence.
Prosecutors questioned Franklin about several versions of the shooting that he told Middletown police, including that he was never at the bar and he was at the bar but stayed in a car.
Franklin is charged with murder and four counts of felonious assault.
The prosecution has rested its case, and Franklin was the defense’s only witness. The trial is expected to continue Friday with closing statements in Judge Charles Pater’s courtroom.
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