Following an eight-day jury trial in Anne Arundel Circuit Court detailing a fatal shooting at a 2019 pool party, a Glen Burnie man received a life sentence for first-degree murder, plus an additional 20 years of incarceration for related assault offenses.
Jacovi DeVaughn Johnson, 24, was convicted by a jury in April on murder, assault and firearms charges stemming from his involvement in the fatal shooting at a crowded Glen Burnie pool party, where James Antonio Diggs IV, a 29-year-old auto mechanic from Baltimore, was killed.
Police and prosecutors said during the trial that Johnson and Dion Isom Sanders had driven a rental car to the pool party on July 5, 2019, and struck Diggs in the leg with the vehicle. Diggs smashed the rental car’s windshield, police said, and Johnson responded with a hail of gunfire — 11 rounds. Diggs was pronounced dead after being transported to a shock trauma center.
According to an obituary presented during Friday’s sentencing hearing before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Michael Wachs, family members said Diggs was a “crafty” father who was known for writing poetry and drawing, as well as cooking on the grill for his family. He had played football at Carver Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore, and most recently worked as a mechanic.
During the trial, prosecutors Christina Ferris and Nancy Jeffein-Ohlin relied on the testimony of Sanders, who said Johnson was the one who shot Diggs, also adding that he and Sanders shared possession of the gun. In exchange for his testimony, Sanders took a plea deal and received a 10-year sentence, suspended down to five years, for acting as an accessory to murder; and a 65-year sentence, suspended down to 16 years, for an unrelated home invasion case.
Johnson’s lawyers had argued that police had “tunnel vision” when investigating the shooting, refusing to investigate Sanders as a suspect while they focused on Johnson. On Friday, they shared letters of support from Johnson’s family and friends with the judge.
Wachs sentenced Johnson to the mandatory minimum of life for first-degree murder, as well as 10 consecutive years each for two first-degree assault convictions stemming from the shooting.
Johnson will serve the first five years of his sentence without the possibility of parole, court records say. Wachs recommended Johnson be sent to the Patuxent Institution, a prison in Jessup which provides treatment-oriented services to inmates.