PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

Suspect Is Held Without Bond in Largo Super Bowl Shootings

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By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 8, 2008

A Mitchellville man charged with murder in the Super Bowl-night shootings at a pizza restaurant was ordered held without bond yesterday pending a March 5 preliminary hearing.

Tron S. Johnson, 22, made a brief appearance in Prince George's County District Court via closed-circuit television from the county detention center in Upper Marlboro, where he has been held since his arrest Tuesday.

According to a charging statement, Johnson faces two counts each of first- and second-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence in connection with the slayings of Curtis L. Poston, 26, of Temple Hills and Terrance L. Sneed, 22, of Landover. A court official said Johnson is also charged with the same offenses in the death of Charles D. Harrison, 25, also of Landover, in the same incident.

The shootings occurred when an argument over the football game escalated into a brawl inside the Uno Chicago Grill at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo. Johnson pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and shot Poston, with whom he had been trading barbs, and then Sneed, who came to Poston's aid during the fight, court records say. Both men were hit in the upper body, the statement says.

Harrison "attempted to flee the restaurant out the front door and was shot by the defendant in the head," the statement said.

Poston was taken to Prince

George's Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead. Harrison was later pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center.

According to the document, Johnson was identified as the gunman after a witness "provided investigators with a cellular phone that was sitting on the bar" where he was seated. An investigation linked the phone to Johnson, who was subsequently identified as the shooter in a photo lineup, records show.

At the time of his arrest, Johnson was on probation after pleading guilty to marijuana charges in November and again last month. A third marijuana case against him was dismissed Jan. 10 after four Prince George's police officers failed to appear at a hearing, court records show.

Police spokeswoman Sharon Taylor said yesterday that the department was checking to see why the officers did not appear.

Johnson was sentenced to four years probation in November in one case and the same penalty last month after a hearing Jan. 4 before Judge Vincent J. Femia.

In an interview, Femia expressed condolences for the families of the dead men. But he said it was appropriate for him and Judge Graydon McKee III, who sentenced Johnson in November, to give him probation rather than jail time. Although Johnson was initially charged in the November case with possession of a gun with an obliterated serial number, the case was not prosecuted because police could not prove that Johnson owned the gun, authorities said.

"You have to remember what you are dealing with," Femia said. "You are dealing with possession of marijuana. If it was a large quantity of marijuana, the state would have indicted him, and he wouldn't have been in that misdemeanor court."

Femia said there was nothing in Johnson's background that indicated he might turn violent.

"If you're asking me if there was some sort of indicator or red flag that from the November case or even the case in January that should have gone up to say this is a dangerous person, there was no such flag," he said. "There was nothing in the possession of marijuana that would indicate this person would later shoot people. . . . It indicated he would blow pot."

LaWanda Johnson, spokeswoman for the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, said probation is typical in such cases.

"I think this tragedy speaks to the need to address violence and guns, not low-level marijuana charges," she said. "There is no causal relationship between marijuana and violence, and judges simply can't imprison people for crimes you think they might commit."


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