A Middletown woman who was on the patio area the night Julian Johnson was fatally shot at D&J’s Nite Spot sobbed as she testified Wednesday and flinched when she had to point out the alleged shooter.
Malcolm Franklin, 28, formerly of Louisiana, is charged with murder as well as three counts of felonious assault for the 2017 gun violence at the Elliott Drive bar.
Prosecutors say Franklin fired 11 rounds into a cluster of four people on the patio of D&J’s Nite Spot during the early morning hours of May 30, 2017, killing Johnson, 23, and wounding two others.
But defense attorneys say Franklin was in fear for his life and committed the act in self defense.
Ashley Payne was the person who escaped injury when the shooting broke out. She took the stand Wednesday morning clutching a tissue to tell the jury what she saw.
Payne said she was standing outside on the bar’s patio shortly after 2 a.m. with Johnson, another man who was later injured, and Natasha Walton, her cousin who was Johnson’s girlfriend, when shots were fired.
“Somebody ran around the back of the fence and started shooting,” Payne said.
She said the man shooting was dressed in black, but she saw his eyes.
“I instantly froze. I was just starring at him,” she said.
Her cousin was shot once in the side, Payne said. She also saw Johnson lying motionless nearby.
“He looked dead,” she sobbed.
Payne said she recognized the man who fired the gunshots as someone she knew as “Frank” and later found his photo on Facebook. She said she had previously seen him in a YouTube video.
She began crying and found it hard to look at the defense table when asked to point out Franklin.
Eventually she said, “him over there.”
During questioning by the defense, Payne said Johnson did not go to the fence area and talk to someone before the shooting started.
A surveillance tape played several times for the jury appeared to show Johnson walking to and then facing the fence.
Payne also said she did not know if Johnson was armed or carried a gun.
The defense said Johnson had a gun and 29 bullets underneath him when he was found dead.
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