As a jury forewoman read “guilty” verdicts against Tymear Johnson in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy in a Chinese takeout in Nicetown two years ago, the 22-year-old Philadelphia man showed no reaction.
The jury of nine women and three men convicted Johnson of first-degree murder and gun offenses in the March 2017 shooting that killed Khiseer Davis-Prather.
Johnson, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, is to be sentenced Jan. 23, 2020, to a mandatory term of life in prison for the murder conviction. Defense attorney Gina Amoriello asked for the delayed sentencing hearing so Johnson could be evaluated by a mental health expert to help determine which state prison would be best for him.
Jurors deliberated for four hours on Thursday and one hour Friday morning. They acquitted Johnson of conspiracy to commit murder.
Despite the convictions, Davis-Prather’s mother, Cornelia Davis, said afterward: “I’m still sad. Even though he’s found guilty, it still doesn’t change the fact that I can’t see" her son.
“All these little kids are throwing their lives away,” the victim’s grandmother Vanessa Hargrove, said, speaking of the violence that has affected so many of the city’s young people. “These kids need help.”
In her closing argument Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Courtney Malloy said video of the shooting, which was played for jurors, showed a clear case of first-degree murder. The gunman, wearing a ski mask, walked “calmly and smoothly” toward the group of four younger teens, raised his arm, and fired a .45-caliber gun just inches from Davis-Prather’s head. The victim died nine days later.
Despite donning the mask, Johnson was identified as the shooter because of a distinctive red jacket he wore in the takeout and earlier that night while at the King of Prussia Mall and on a SEPTA bus on his way back to Philadelphia, Malloy said.
There was no evidence during the trial, which started Tuesday, that Johnson or a codefendant, Christopher Southerland, knew Davis-Prather or any of the three friends with him in the Gold Fish takeout about 10:30 that March night.
The young men crossed paths when the bus Johnson and Southerland, then 17, were riding in briefly stopped outside the Hunting Park Avenue takeout. Video taken from the bus showed Johnson looking toward the takeout and pointing. Video from the takeout showed one of Davis-Prather’s friends making some sort of hand gesture toward the bus.
Malloy said Johnson felt “disrespected” by whatever he saw and after getting off the bus, he and Southerland went to confront the boys.
Southerland, 20, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to a charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, testified at Johnson’s trial Tuesday. He said he accompanied Johnson to the takeout, believing that his friend was only going to use his gun as a “scare tactic.” In court, Southerland identified Johnson as the shooter.