3/16/2018 2:13:00 PM County attorney gets guilty verdict on
aiding and abetting in 2016 drug overdose
The second of two criminal trials tied to the December 2016 overdose death of Cameron Johnson, 18, concluded late Friday March 9.
Morgan Kathryn Johnson, now 18, of Center City was convicted by a jury of aiding and abetting the third degree unintentional murder of Cameron Johnson (no relation to the defendant). The case went into deliberations about 4:30 p.m. and a verdict came just a few hours later.
The initial trial convicted Morgan’s boyfriend, Alex Menne of Lindstrom, of third degree unintentional murder. He was recently sentenced (story Press March 1) to nine years, essentially closer to eight years with credit for time served.
Morgan was a juvenile when Cameron overdosed and died, and she was petitioned into adult prosecution November 2017. Morgan will be sentenced May 1.
Defense attorney John Lillie asked the jury to accept that Morgan was just a teenaged girl, “along for the ride” taking direction from her boyfriend. Witnesses reinforced that Menne and Morgan were never far apart. In trial it was presented that Morgan admitted to Wyoming Police investigators that she physically provided Cameron with the pills of oxy-pressed with fentanyl. Menne’s vehicle had damaged a mailbox at Cameron’s parents’ house. Instead of paying cash, several text messages lifted from cell phones described a deal where pills would be provided and Cameron could sell them.
Attorney Lillie explained to the jury that in order to find Morgan guilty of aiding and abetting-- there would have had to have been a different outcome had Morgan not accompanied Menne that day.
Lillie said that’s not the case. Pills still would have been left for Cameron to collect later, adding Morgan’s presence did not ensure that a crime was committed.
Lillie asked rhetorically-- “What would have happened if she’d not been there? Menne would have delivered them anyway” he stressed.
Assistant County Attorney David Hemming countered, reminding jurors he’d presented evidence of Morgan’s knowledge of illicit drug markets, including the “dark web.” “Of course she knew what these pills are.
He added, “She confirms in her statement to police that she put the pills in the mailbox.”
Hemming used a text message that Morgan sent to Cameron’s girlfriend-- after it’s been learned Cameron has passed away-- where Morgan apologizes and says how very sorry she is, wishing they had just paid for the damaged mailbox.
Hemming refers to the numerous text message evidence in this case as, “almost a play-by-play,” of what led up to Cameron overdosing in his house, on East Comfort Lake Drive. His body was discovered by his girlfriend, December 12 2016 on the floor of his bathroom at approximately 4 p.m.
The forensic work can show where cell phone messages “ping” from which tower, tracking whereabouts.
It was not long between when Cameron’s last text communication came through on the girlfriend’s phone and when he was declared dead.
The jury also heard about a Snapchat self-video Cameron distributed earlier that day to a few people, showing himself collecting the bag of pills Morgan left in the mailbox.
Wyoming Police were the first on the scene when 9-1-1 was called. Efforts to revive Cameron with an AED were not successful. North Memorial ambulance crews administering Narcan as an antidote were not successful.
The medical examiner ruled Cameron Johnson died of furanyl fentanyl toxicity.
The defense had also tried to create doubt about what is known and more importantly, not known, about this Chinese-manufactured illegal controlled substance, which is a molecular-modified version or analog of fentanyl.
Witnesses testified as to Cameron’s use of a variety of drugs (Xanax and Valium were also found present from the autopsy) The defense maintained “It’s just as possible that it was a combination” of substances that proved fatal to Cameron on that day.
To convict Morgan of aiding and abetting, even in an unintentional murder; it must be shown that the pills Morgan facilitated the delivery of were the proximate cause of death.
But, the wealth of evidence provided in text messages proved too compelling. Hemming stressed that there is no confusion that three people were responsible for Cameron Johnson’s death “...Cameron, Menne and Morgan Johnson.”
Hemming said a “...wealth of evidence” has proven when Cameron died, where he died, “...and the pills he possessed that day.”