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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Teen-age witness testifies in Hastings trial

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM

David Koon reports from the manslaughter trial of former Little Rock Police officer Josh Hastings:

The afternoon was largely dedicated to testimony of Jeremiah Johnson, a 14-year-old who was in backseat of the stolen Honda Civic that the victim, Bobby Moore Jr., was driving the night he was killed. Johnson said he'd known Moore since 5th grade.

Johnson testified that he, Moore and another teen-ager had been out taking turns driving the Honda since 8 p.m. the previous night. He said they went Shadow Lake Apartments to go "checking cars" — checking for unlocked cars and things to steal. They broke the window of one car, set off a car alarm in another, after which they went to a different part of the complex, he said. Under questioning by the prosecution, Johnson said they were "just cruising" while leaving the lot when they spotted a light that turned out to be Hastings' flashlight. He said Moore started driving slower when he saw the light, and heard Hastings ID himself as LRPD.

Johnson said they were 15 feet from Hastings when shots were fired. He said Moore wasn't at a complete stop, but was coming to a stop and looking over his shoulder to put the car in reverse. After the shooting and the car rolled back to crash, Johnson said he ran to nearby woods and hid until daybreak before catching a ride home.

On cross examination by defense attorney Bill James, Johnson said they'd broken into "about 15" cars that night. James repeatedly questioned Johnson on when he first realized the person with the light was a cop, and whether the car was moving forward or completely stopped when Hastings fired, with the judge at one point encouraging both James and Johnson not to talk over one another. Johnson repeatedly said he couldn't be sure the car was at full stop, but said he believed Moore was in process of putting it in reverse when shots fired. On recross, Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson asked Johnson: "Can I be walking forward and stopping at the same time?" To which Johnson said, "yes."

Johnson was excused as a witness just before an afternoon break.

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