The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 19th

First witness in trial of Brian Minton testifies about events leading to shooting

Jack Johnson II said he was in shock after Josh Bailey was shot and killed in a wooded area off of Twisted Oak Drive in July 2008.

In the second day of his testimony Friday, Jack Johnson, the first witness to testify at the trial of Brian Gregory Minton, 23, said up until Minton instructed Matt Johnson to shoot Bailey, he questioned whether he was actually going to go through with it.

Minton is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping for 20-year-old Bailey’s death. He is the first to go to trial of nine originally charged.

The state contended Thursday that although Minton did not shoot the gun, he led a group of people to kill Bailey.

Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall continued to question Jack Johnson Friday about the events leading up to Bailey’s slaying.

Jack Johnson said he became friends with Minton in 2008, and the two committed two robberies together along with other group members.

On the day of the murder, Minton invited several of the group members to “chill” in his garage where the group regularly gathered.

“During that time, we were drinking, enjoying ourselves, having a good time,” Jack Johnson said. “Then it kind of changed.”

Some of the group members began discussing items they believed Matt
Johnson had stolen from them, he said.

Jack Johnson said when they brought Matt Johnson to the garage, they interrogated him about the stolen items and accused him of collaborating with police. Minton’s 38 mm revolver was used to intimidate him, he said.

“As Matt began to deny and after the gun was pulled out, he began to claim that Josh was the culprit behind the thefts and that it was his idea for the thefts, and he was actually the person working with the police,” Jack Johnson said.

Bailey was then brought to Minton’s garage where he was assaulted and interrogated alongside Matt Johnson, he said.

Jack Johnson said Minton grew tired of the back and forth questioning of Matt Johnson and Bailey, who both denied accusations.

“At that point, Brian said, ‘Screw this. It’s getting us nowhere.’ That’s when he pulled out the 9 millimeter,” Jack Johnson said, referring to a 9 mm handgun that he said also belonged to Minton.

Minton told the pair to fight it out, but it only lasted about 30 seconds, Jack Johnson said. Matt Johnson continued to defend himself, but Bailey didn’t plead his case much and the attention turned to him, he said.

Jack Johnson said Brian ordered group members to duct tape Bailey’s wrists, and he drove his mother’s SUV with Bailey and some of the group to the street where one member, Jacob Maxwell, lived. Two others followed in another car.

Jack Johnson said he rode in the SUV with Minton.

“I still had a sense of loyalty (to Minton), but at the time, I was intimidated by the situation as well,” he said.

The group escorted Bailey into the woods near Maxwell’s house, and Minton told Bailey to stand in a ditch made by an uprooted tree, Jack Johnson said.

He said Minton then instructed Matt Johnson to shoot Bailey, who still denied the group’s accusations up until when he was killed.

Matt Johnson shot Bailey in the head and then shot him again when instructed by Minton, Jack Johnson said.

Group members then covered up the body and left the site.

Jack Johnson said he returned to the burial site a few times, including once with Minton’s father who had learned of the shooting, before the body was moved to another wooded area in Chatham County near Jordan Lake.

“I remember saying, ‘This never should have happened,’” he said.

Woodall presented both guns involved in the events leading to Bailey’s death along with other items as evidence.

The trial will resume Monday morning.

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