Interviews played for the jury indicate Don Earl Johnson Jr. was willing to hang on to his alibi for a while, but finally broke down in June 2019 and admitted to shooting Daniel Lee Gilliam outside Gilliam’s residence two years earlier.
In his first interview in 2017, Johnson maintained he was not the triggerman in the case. Sheila Ramos, an investigator with the Glynn County Police Department, said she became the case agent on the homicide in December 2017. When evidence began to point in Johnson’s direction again, she and another officer sat down with him for an interview to go back over the events of the day of April 12, 2017.
Johnson said he woke up early in the morning at the residence he shared with his father and aunt, and went to work. He said he worked with Gilliam, who he also knew outside of work for some time.
Johnson said that later on that day, “Me and him, we talked, we had some words,” and Johnson admitted he threatened to fight Gilliam, but Johnson insisted he didn’t kill him. Instead, he said when he got off work he spent the next several hours bouncing between a liquor store, an outdoor gathering area and home, having some beers. Eventually, Johnson said, he went home and that was it.
Johnson said that day he got in contact with Gilliam to purchase some drugs, and when Gilliam was later than expected, Johnson got upset with him. He also denied being in the area of U.S. Highway 341 and State Route 303 around 8 p.m., though Ramos said in the interview that law enforcement had mobile phone data that shows his phone pinged off a nearby tower. She also told Johnson his father and his aunt told police Johnson had a gun on him, though Johnson denied it.
At this point in the interview, Johnson says he’s coming clean and says he planned for roughly a year to rob Gilliam because of a personal beef with him. He said he went to Gilliam’s residence in a car with friends Shawn and C.J., but that he was the only one who got out of the car. Johnson said Shawn provided him with a .22-caliber handgun, and that the gun accidentally fired twice at the scene, with one bullet striking Gilliam and one hitting the ground.
Chazlyn Brown, Gilliam’s girlfriend at the time, said she and Gilliam were at the McDonald’s on Altama Avenue around two hours before the incident, when Gilliam and Johnson got into a heated argument over the phone. She testified that Gilliam told her Johnson’s behavior was odd.
Other testimony revealed that when police searched Johnson the night of the incident, they found him in possession of a pill bottle that closely resembles the same one Brown said Gilliam would usually have in his pocket.
Testimony resumes today at 9:30 a.m. the Glynn County Courthouse.