Trial against man charged in death of Phylicia Barnes postponed until Jan

BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) - Michael Johnson shuffled into court Monday with his ankles and wrists chained, only to learn both the state and his attorneys need more time to review the case before arguing his fate.

Many expected the 28-year-old to plead Monday with a trial date to follow. Instead, proceedings were postponed until January 21, 2013.

Investigators say Johnson killed 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes, whose nude body was found months later in the Susquehanna River near the Conowingo Dam. Barnes, from Monroe, North Carolina, was visiting her sister in Baltimore when she was reported missing.

The coroner's office revealed Barnes died of asphyxiation. During a bail review for Johnson in April, it was learned a witness told investigators he saw Johnson sweating, struggling to carry a large plastic tub out of the apartment of Barnes' sister.

Johnson reportedly dated Barnes' sister for several years.

Johnson's attorneys say there are 17,000 pages of evidence to review in the case. They argue none of what they've seen so far establishes a clear case against their client.

"Will January be enough time? It's our hope that it will be," said defense attorney Russell Neverdon.

Check back with ABC2 News as we continue to develop this story.

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