Murder suspect bound over for arraignmentA Chicago man accused of gunning down a Superior man in front of his home was bound over for arraignment following a preliminary hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court Tuesday.
By: Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
A Chicago man accused of gunning down a Superior man in front of his home was bound over for arraignment following a preliminary hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court Tuesday.
Tiawain Albert Johnson, 21, of Chicago faces one count of first degree intentional homicide stemming from the Jan. 15, 2012, shooting death of Toriano Cooper outside 1901 N. 12th St.
Two of the three witnesses who took the stand in front of Judge Kelly Thimm are currently lodged in the Douglas County Jail facing unrelated felony drug charges. The two men knew Johnson both socially and through drug deals, according to Tuesday’s testimony. Their stories matched the criminal complaint, alleging that Johnson shot Cooper, who he knew as “Snap,” in retaliation for an armed robbery that took place at Johnson’s home.
Johnson told them the man who set him up was “Snap,” and that he was going to get him. The day of the shooting, one of the witnesses said he received a call on his phone. Johnson told him “I got him” and talked about needing to leave town. The other witness was at Johnson’s Superior residence a few hours after the shooting. He told the court that Johnson was acting panicky, jittery, and was chain smoking. Johnson described the incident to him, the man testified — how he caught Cooper working on his car outside his home, shot him, then walked away so as not to draw attention to himself.
Superior Police Officer Jeff Harriman told the court that Cooper was found unconscious inside his residence and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. He also confirmed Cooper was known by the nickname “Snap.”
More than a dozen people sat in the courtroom during the hearing, four of them in bright pink T-shirts with pictures of Cooper on the front and the words “Gone But Not Forgotten” or “Gone but never forgotten” on the back. Some shed tears during the testimony. Thimm found that the evidence was sufficient to bind Johnson over for arraignment, which was set for Aug. 23.
It took tenacity and luck to build the case.
“When the murder was reported I think we had no idea who a suspect or suspects could be,” Blank said. “It was a real mystery.” The investigation hit a dead end quickly.
“It took some time before circumstances came together and a couple of people who knew information and had an interest in talking decided to talk,” Blank said. “And that reopened the case.” Although key information was gathered a year ago, it took time to corroborate it and make sure it wasn’t just a rehash of what had been released in the media or what was being said on the street, the district attorney said.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, Johnson sat quietly through the proceedings. When asked prior to the hearing how the 21-year old is doing, his attorney, Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O’Neill, said Johnson is upset and scared. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment. Johnson continues to be held at the Douglas County Jail without bail.