BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Jason Johnson is on trial in Broome County Court for allegedly shooting a New York State Trooper in June of 2021.
Jason and his father David are also both charged of tampering with physical evidence.
The Defendant is represented by attorney Michael Spano, and the Prosecution is represented by Broome County District Attorney Mike Korchak.
Both sides presented their opening statements last Wednesday, August 3rd.
The evening of June 9th, 2021, on East Windsor Road in the town of Colesville, the Broome County Sheriff’s Department responded to a report of threatening drawings and phrases that had been etched into the road.
Steve Warner, a neighbor of the Johnson’s, says he saw a man outside in the road shortly before going out and witnessing the carvings himself.
Warner felt threatened by the depictions, and called the police to report the behavior.
In later testimony, Jason testified that Warner had called the police to the Johnson’s residence multiple times in years past.
Jason wrote “snitches get stitches” in front of Warner’s house in response to the previous calls to the police.
Hours after Warner filed the report to the police, Deputy Emily Zielewicz arrived at the scene for a check welfare.
When Zielewicz first approached Jason on the side of the road, he turned and walked away from the officer.
Johnson said in testimony that he had no idea why the police were on his family’s property in the first place.
Jason eventually made his way into the house and retrieved a .270 hunting rifle.
In his closing statements, Spano told the jury that Jason’s decision to come outside with a rifle was stupid and uncalled for, but that he did not break the law.
The defendant was a legal gun owner, hunter, and was on his own property.
Jason testified that he was yelling verbal threats in hopes that it would intimidate the police enough to leave.
Law enforcement did not leave, which caused Jason to become more agitated with the situation.
He confessed to shooting three different vehicles that night, two of which were law enforcement, with the goal of scaring the police off the property.
The defense argues that Jason Johnson had no intention of harming or murdering anyone that night. Jason testifies that he shot the vehicles hoping that the officers would back off in response.
One of the vehicles shot was civilian Everett Butler’s truck. Trooper Becky Seager was parked in the middle of East Windsor Road managing traffic in-and-out of the area.
Seager waved down Butler as he approached and told him that the area is too dangerous, and that he needed to turn around.
Seager testifies that once she was done talking with Butler, she began walking back to her troop car in the middle of the road when she felt a biting pain in her left hip.
Seager fell to the ground screaming that she had been shot, and was able to crawl to the passenger side of her vehicle where she radioed to other officers for assistance.
Seager testified that since the incident, she has not been able to return to the life that she always had. She said that she is in constant pain and has developed a limp.
Later testimony from the forensic consultant and firearms expert Chris Robinson determined that Seager’s bullet wound seems more consistent with .223 rounds rather than .270.
Korchak argues in his closing remarks, that Robinson’s testimony was simply his opinion and speculation.
Judge Joe Cawley’s court room was filled with New York State Troopers to show their support for Trooper Becky Seager’s testimony.
Jason testified that he mistook Butler’s truck as a police vehicle. He says that he did not see anyone in the truck or Trooper Seager directing traffic.
Jason confirmed that he did shoot Butler’s tailgate, but says that he never saw Seager; however, he confesses that he heard a faint scream after shooting the truck.
The defense argues that there is reasonable doubt that Jason Johnson did not shoot Trooper Seager.
The prosecution argues that Jason did intend to harm and murder several police officers the night of June 9th, 2021.
Korchak says that if someone aims a loaded rifle in the general direction of another, and pulls the trigger, the shooter is intending to impose harm or death.
Korchak argues that if Jason had enough visibility to aim and shoot at trooper cars, then he had the visibility to see trooper Seager, Thorpe, and Meehan
Jason says that he ended up sleeping on a a bed of hay that evening. In the morning, Jason got into a kayak and paddled a couple of hours down the Susquehanna River to family friend, Earl Paugh’s house.
Paugh testified that he saw Jason in the river and wanted to help him clean off and unwind.
Paugh invited Jason into a trailer to get out of his wet, dirty clothes, and for some refreshments.
Paugh testified that Jason did not know why people were looking for him. Paugh told Jason that he had shot a trooper, and Jason allegedly replied in a surprised tone, “I did?”
Paugh then left Jason alone in the trailer, and called the police to notify them of Jason’s whereabouts.
Within an hour and a half, Jason was apprehended.
The defendant, Jason Johnson, is accused of three counts of attempted murder in the first degree, three counts of attempted murder in the second degree, three counts of criminal use of a firearm, one count of aggravated assault of a police officer, one count of assault in the first degree, one count of attempted assault in the first degree, and both Jason and David Johnson are charged of tampering with physical evidence.
The jury is deliberating, and is expected to have a verdict by the end of the day today, or early Monday morning.
NewsChannel 34 will have the latest updates as they are released.