BLOOMINGTON — Four people wounded in a shooting last year testified Wednesday that they could not identify Ross Johnson as the person who fired a handgun during a disagreement at a party at a Bloomington apartment.
Johnson, 21, is on trial for home invasion, attempted murder and aggravated battery of the victims who were injured when shots were fired through a door and into a living room on Gettysburg Drive.
Shanieca Mason, 19, testified that she did not know who shot her four times in the chest and leg.
“I just heard shots being fired,” said Mason.
According to police, Johnson and his brother, Malcolm, were with Dartaveon Miles and several others who were asked to leave the party attended by as many as 70 people. Malcolm Johnson allegedly struck victim Chris Lipscomb in the face as the group forced their way back into the party.
Mason, Lipscomb and two other victims, Kwaan Mason and Preston Bellamy, were wounded when Ross Johnson allegedly opened fire in the apartment, Assistant State’s Attorney John Shim told the jury in opening statements.
Kwaan Mason admitted to a prosecutor that he did not want to testify at the trial.
“There’s really nothing I can do here,” Mason told the jury during his brief time on the witness stand.
Mason told defense lawyer Brendan Bukalski “I just woke up shot.”
Johnny Lipscomb smirked and blew bubbles with his gum during his testimony. He claimed he has forgotten many details of what took place the night of the shooting. He denied knowing Ross Johnson.
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Victim Preston Bellamy recanted statements he made to Bloomington police about the shooting, calling his identification of Johnson “a misunderstanding.”
The denials of earlier statements continued with Artize Gant, who lived at the apartment, and also spoke to police. Not only did Gant respond more than 30 times that he couldn’t remember details, he also could not recall talking to the detective.
Blaming his memory lapses on alcohol consumption, Gant said “If I was sober I wouldn’t even talk to them.”
Gant, whose argument with Malcolm Johnson reportedly precipitated the directive for the three uninvited guests to leave, was clear that he did not want to be involved in the trial.
“I feel like I have no reason to be here. It wasn’t my party so it had nothing to do with me,” said Gant.
Shim told the jury in his opening statement that many witnesses are reluctant to testify.
“This case is about fear and intimidation,” said Shim.
Witnesses denied Wednesday that they had been threatened ahead of the trial.
The trial continues today with more party guests slated to testify.
The media is covering the case with cameras and microphones as part of the Illinois Supreme Court pilot program for extended media coverage of the courts.