FAIRFIELD — The man who shot and killed two men in a Fairfield drug deal gone bad told his story of self-defense Wednesday, changing his story by the minute.
Blake Johnson said that he returned fire at two men who robbed him and then fired shots at him March 7, 2012, in Parkway Gardens. Exactly who those men were and the events surrounding the shooting was described several different ways by Johnson during several hours of testimony in the first day of a preliminary hearing for suspect Marcel Rutherford-Chew.
Rutherford-Chew is accused of committing a crime that led to the deaths of his cousin Vedell Chew and associate Bernard Knight. Rutherford-Chew has pleaded not guilty.
Johnson was originally arrested in connection to the crime, but is now a witness for the prosecution. His testimony began by invoking his Fifth Amendment rights. After being informed that he was being given immunity for his testimony, he then said he didn’t want to answer questions.
Judge E. Bradley Nelson repeatedly ordered Johnson to answer the questions before threatening to hold Johnson in contempt of court. After meeting with his attorney, Johnson returned to the stand.
Rutherford-Chew went to Parkway Gardens with three other men to purchase marijuana from an associate of Johnson. At some point during the deal, Johnson said, two of the men approached him. He said they both pointed guns at him and snatched a gold medallion from his neck.
Johnson testified Wednesday that shots were fired at him as the two men were walking away after the robbery. His account of how many men shot at him and their identity changed throughout the testimony.
Johnson eventually said Rutherford-Chew and Knight were the two who robbed him at gunpoint after defense attorney Robert Warshawsky repeatedly asked for the truth in the final minutes of the day’s hearing.
What Johnson could clearly explain was that he was in fear for his life and started shooting in self-defense. He testified that he never intended to the kill the men and blacked out during the exchange of gunfire, preventing a clear memory of the events.
“I thought my life was over with,” Johnson said.
Johnson told the court that he eventually drove to the East Coast and threw the gun in the Atlantic Ocean. When questioned, he could not recall which state he visited, what car he drove or how he returned to California.
Prosecutor Barry Taira asked if Johnson remembered telling investigators that he threw the gun off the Benicia Bridge. Johnson said he didn’t remember saying that.
Warshawsky’s cross-examination focused on Johnson’s subsequent arrests in connection to alleged gun offenses. Johnson was arrested in October during a car stop on suspicion of a felony offense for possessing a loaded firearm. Johnson was out of jail on bail for a similar alleged felony offense at the time of the car stop and his arrest, according to court records.
Warshawsky also talked about a search of Johnson’s home in November that turned up more weapons and ammunition.
Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.