By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun
12:20 PM EST, February 6, 2013
UPDATE: A Baltimore jury has found Michael Maurice Johnson guilty of second-degree murder in the killing Phylicia Barnes, a North Carolina teenager whose body was found in the Susquehanna River in 2011, months after a mysterious disappearance that drew national attention.
Lawyers on both sides had acknowledged in closing arguments that the evidence against Johnson was circumstantial. But while defense attorneys described flaws and inconsistencies, prosecutors said the facts pointed to Johnson as the only reasonable suspect.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy.
"Justice was served," said the girl's father, Russell Barnes. "Phylicia can sleep now."
Jurors on Tuesday had viewed for a second time a tape that prosecutors say depicts Barnes, her accused killer, and two of their siblings naked and kissing. A third day of deliberations is set to begin Wednesday.
The jury was quiet throughout the day until about 4 p.m. when the group sent a message to Judge Alfred Nance asking to view the tape, along with Wal-Mart surveillance video of accused Johnson buying a plastic tub. The panel of six men and six women watched the footage intently, some taking notes.
Jurors had been provided with a laptop to watch the videos but it was not working properly, Nance said.
Barnes disappeared while visiting Baltimore from North Carolina in December 2010. Johnson, who had been dating Barnes' older half sister for a decade, is accused of killing Barnes and hiding her body in a plastic storage container before disposing of it.
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