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Updated: 12:09 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 | Posted: 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013
The jury has found Michael Johnson guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of Phylicia Barnes. Prosecutors said Johnson killed the 16-year-old, who was from Monroe, while she was visiting her sister in Baltimore in 2010.Barnes' body was found in the Susquehanna River in 2011, in a case that drew national attention.Channel 9 affiliates in Baltimore said that Barnes’ family is happy with the verdict.The defense said they plan to file a motion for a new trial.Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy.On Monday, the state told the jury before they were sent to deliberate that if they did not find him guilty of first-degree murder to consider second-degree.During deliberations, jurors asked to see surveillance video of Johnson buying a blue storage tote. Prosecutors said that is how Johnson hid Barnes’ body.The jury also asked to see a sex tape involving Barnes that was recorded before she disappeared.During closing arguments, prosecutors admitted they were missing a so-called smoking gun in their case against Johnson, but they are asking jurors to piece together the evidence that they do have. They believed that Johnson was romantically interested in Barnes and jealous of the time she spent with others.The defense said there was no physical evidence to link Johnson to Barnes' death and called the states case "circumstantial."The sentencing hearing will be held on March 20.
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