Court listens to Michael Johnson's wiretapped conversations about Phylicia Barnes case

BALTIMORE - On Thursday the courtroom got to see and hear how Michael Maurice Johnson, the man accused of killing Phylicia Barnes, through several wiretapped phone and text conversations about the Phylicia Barnes case.

October 16, 2011 text messages

The first conversation, which consisted of text messages, between Johnson and Tabitha Fickling, who was his girlfriend at the time. Johnson was a person of interest in the case at that time.

INTERACTIVE | Timeline of Barnes' case

In that conversation Johnson texted "I feel like everything is about to hit the fan." He then wrote he wasn't ready for this, and that he didn't have many options, but still had some. He wanted to pack up his stuff and leave.  He thought Fickling would be against that idea.

Fickling then texted, "And go where?"

Johnson then texted he should leave the country, but he didn't want to go, and thought that Fickling and Landon (Johnson's child with Fickling) would have to stay.

Note: Johnson was taken as a person of interest in January 2011 and was arrested in April 2012.

October 19, 2011 phone call

On October 19 Michael Johnson and his older brother discussed the case. Michael mentioned that they might take DNA samples from him, but asked, what were they going to test the sample against?  They need more evidence he said, continuing that they (prosecution) would need something strong. 

The brothers also talked about how much time would need to be served if he was found guilty of first degree vs. second degree murder.

October 8, 2011 phone call

The court also heard a conversation between Johnson and his mother where his mom told him that his youngest brother had received a grand jury summons.  She didn't exactly know what that was, so Johnson explained it to her.

They also talked about how the case would take place in Harford County, because that is where Barnes' body was found.

"At this point, you've got to go with it," Johnson told his mother.


The defense also performed a cross examination and reemphasized that the state had no match of DNA on Phylicia's body, and argued that the conversations could be taken out of context because not all phone/text conversations were allowed in court.

They also said that the evidence was circumstantial.

Johnson is the ex-boyfriend of Barnes' older sister. Police say he was the last person to see the 16-year-old teen alive. 

Barnes' body was found four months after her disappearance in the Susquehanna River near the  Conowingo Dam. Her death was ruled a homicide.

She had been visiting Baltimore during the Christmas holidays from North Carolina to see her family.



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