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Officer's Killer May Have Targeted Family Friend

"Because your daddy told me to," she replied.

Johnson was given a 10-year prison term for the bank robbery. He was locked up from October 1989 until May 2001 for the holdup and other offenses.

During his trial this spring, Judge Ann O'Regan Keary did not permit prosecutors to introduce any evidence of Johnson's 1989 trip to Washington. But for sentencing, both sides have more leeway to delve into his past.


Walter O. Johnson was sentenced for killing Marlon Morales, right a Metro police officer. (Metro Transit Police)

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Sitting in the living room of her house yesterday, Williams said she does not know what Johnson was doing in her neighborhood the night Morales was shot. For a time when he was growing up, she said, his family lived nearby. She wants to think that he wasn't coming after her.

"Maybe I'm wrong," she said. "I don't think Walter would have harmed me. But I don't know. After I called his father and called the police, who knows?"

In an excerpt of the written arguments the defense has submitted to the judge, lawyers Renee P. Raymond and Yvonne Williams of the D.C. Public Defender Service said the prosecution's contention that Johnson was in the area to kill Williams "is complete government conjecture and speculation."

By the time Johnson was confronted by Morales at the Metro station, the ex-convict was already in trouble. Morales just wanted to run a routine check on Johnson after he tried to exit the Metro system without paying.

For Johnson, however, the minor infraction could have quickly escalated, prosecutors said. He had never reported to his probation officer in Philadelphia, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Furthermore, prosecutors say, Johnson was carrying a gun that he had used to shoot a man a few days earlier in Philadelphia.

So when Morales asked for identification, Johnson went for his gun, Assistant U.S. Attorneys June M. Jeffries and David J. Gorman wrote in the sentencing memorandum filed this week.

"For Johnson, the only way out was to eliminate Off. Morales," the prosecutors said in the filing.

Shot in the head and stripped of his gun and extra ammunition, Morales, a father of three, lay on the station floor. Three days later, after suffering a stroke, he died at Washington Hospital Center.

It was the second time in the 28-year history of the transit police that one of its officers had been killed. Johnson eluded the initial police dragnet and returned to Philadelphia, prosecutors said. He was arrested there four days after the shooting, when he was stopped for a traffic violation and found to be carrying Morales's gun.

Jennifer Morales , the slain officer's widow, said the possibility that her husband may have prevented another killing does nothing to ease her pain. "My husband is still dead," she said in a telephone interview. "It's not that I want somebody else to die in his place, but it's hard," she said, her voice trailing off into silence.


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