MARTINEZ — Antwone Ladre Capone Johnson had a busy week.

On March 2, days earlier than he was to face trial on homicide fees, Johnson placed on makeshift physique armor he crafted from mattress sheets and folded up East Bay Occasions newspaper inside his Martinez Detention Facility jail cell. Then he took a jail shank and stabbed one among his co-defendants, 25-year-old Derrick Cooper, within the neck. Cooper survived.

Johnson was charged with tried homicide. Then, after celebrating his 24th birthday two days later, he accepted a plea deal on all his fees — homicide in reference to a 2013 murder, conspiracy to kill a witness, capturing on the police, and gun possession for allegedly posing with an assault weapon in a video years in the past.

He will likely be sentenced to 43 years in state jail.

The stabbing and Johnson’s subsequent plea deal convey one of many county’s lengthiest homicide instances to a close to shut, a saga that took a fair darker flip when Cooper, Johnson and a 3rd man have been accused of conspiring to homicide a witness within the case. Sooner or later although, the connection between Cooper and Johnson disintegrated,  resulting in not less than two fights between them within the jail.

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Cooper and Johnson have been thought of the principal offenders within the 2013 killing of 21-year-old Lincoln Plair, who authorities describe as a randomly-selected sufferer gunned down as a result of the defendants have been out to settle a gang-related beef.

The defendants have been looking for retaliation after a struggle between their gang, referred to as the Swerve Staff, and rivals from central Richmond. Heading into the Iron Triangle, they picked the primary particular person they noticed, walked to him and opened hearth, riddling Plair’s physique with bullets, authorities stated.

After they have been charged with homicide, Cooper determined to convey his case to trial rapidly. He misplaced, and in 2014 was sentenced to 50 years to life in state jail. However he was just lately introduced again to the jail for a re-sentencing listening to, beneath a brand new regulation that applies to offenders who have been lower than 25 years outdated on the time of the crime.

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A 3rd defendant in Plair’s killing, Jason Inexperienced, continues to be awaiting trial.

Johnson’s lawyer referred to as the stabbing of Cooper an act of “preemptive self-defense,” saying that Cooper and Johnson had prior fights within the jail and Johnson stabbed Cooper as a result of he thought Cooper would come for him. Based on authorities, the 2 requested one another as cellmates shortly earlier than the jail stabbing occurred.

“It was barely greater than a scratch,” protection lawyer Markus Dombois stated of the reduce to Cooper’s neck. “Don’t allow them to blow it out of proportion.”

However prosecutor Mary Knox stated the wound was close to Cooper’s jugular vein and that Johnson was heard on a recorded jail name telling his mother he was making an attempt to kill. When authorities tried to interview Cooper concerning the incident, he greeted them with a two-word rebuff: “No remark.”

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Knox stated it might have simply been a murder, if a Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy hadn’t rapidly intervened.

“It was solely due to a really match and energetic module deputy that pulled (Johnson) of Derrick Cooper,” Knox stated. “In (Johnson’s) unpacked property, he had two extra shanks…these have been a number of inches lengthy.”

Knox stated there was a “mountain” of proof towards Johnson. Dombois, in contrast, stated he was assured Johnson might have gotten off on the homicide cost, but in addition stated prosecutors might have used the 5 separate instances towards Johnson to “smear” him. He described Johnson as a “get up man” who was born right into a tradition of violence.

“I don’t suppose we’d have gotten a good trial,” Dombois stated. “(Johnson) definitely wouldn’t have gotten a jury of his friends.”

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