Marijuana sale turned robbery may have led to Minneapolis' first homicide

  • Article by: VINCE TUSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2010 - 11:07 PM

Authorities say victim was selling drugs in north Minneapolis when a man pulled two guns on him.

At first he thought it was a joke, a witness to Minneapolis' first homicide of 2010 told police, even with tough talk and a gun pointed at a man he called his best friend.

But very quickly another gun was pointed his way and what a criminal complaint called a marijuana sale turned robbery had led to the death of Dontae D. Johnson on Jan. 2.

Johnson's wife, Teresa, said her husband had dropped off their son at a sleepover before he was shot to death. Allegations that her husband was selling marijuana "are a surprise to me," she said.

Dontae Johnson told the witness "he was going to sell some weed to his 'cousin'" when a man got out of an SUV, went into Johnson's van and pulled two handguns, according to murder charges filed Monday against Javaris Eugene Milton.

"You gonna rob on your own family, rob your cousin?" was Johnson's reaction to the gunman after they got out of the van, the witness said, according to the complaint. "What you gonna do, shoot me?"

And then several shots were fired, the complaint said, including some at the witness as he ran away and fell on the ice. When he came back to the van, he asked police, "Is my friend shot?"

Johnson, 31, of Champlin, was found lying in the street on the 3800 block of N. 6th Street about 7:45 p.m. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, the medical examiner's office said. One bullet was found in Johnson's jacket and another under his right arm, with four bullet casings for a 9 mm Luger found near the van, the complaint said.

Police were led to Milton through Johnson's cell phone, which had six calls to a cell phone belonging to Milton's brother, according to the complaint.

When police went to talk to Milton last week, they found two shell casings in the stairwell to Milton's apartment and two in his Suburban, the complaint said. They had "features that matched the casings from the scene of the homicide," and the eight appeared to have been fired from the same weapon, it added.

Milton, 32, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder. He is set to appear Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court and was being held in the county jail in lieu of $2 million bail.

Teresa Johnson said she didn't know Milton and didn't think he was family.

"It's really hard for me because I don't want my husband to be perceived as a drug dealer," she said, adding that her husband stayed at home to care for their three children and sometimes helped to move people.

"He was a very smart and caring person ... full of potential," Teresa Johnson said.

Vince Tuss • 612-673-7692

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