A year ago, gunshots rang out inside an Alexander Street home amid an alleged robbery, taking the lives of two men.
Jared Miles Moore, 22, and Dustin Wayne Johnson, 24, lay dead in the wake of the June 26, 2018, gunfire, and a manhunt ensued to bring those responsible to justice. Four people were later arrested in connection with what authorities believe was an ambush robbery plot that turned into a double homicide. As the court cases of each narrow in on a resolution a year later, families and friends of the victims relive the sorrow in increments along the way.
“It’s torture,” Glenda Mullins, mother of Dustin Johnson, told The State Journal on Wednesday. “I work 40 hours a week to support another child, and I can’t work because I can’t focus. Going through all this, it’s mentally taxing.”
Mullins said her son was a kind and caring person, and she was prepared to wait years to see justice for his death. But that was only if the guilty parties were held to proper account.
“We totally understand that it takes some time,” she said. “… I don’t care if it takes 10 years. I just want the punishment to fit the crime.”
Mullins said last week’s development of a plea agreement between the prosecution and 25-year-old Juanita Durrum was particularly difficult.
Durrum agreed to testify against other defendants in the case – Bricelyn Leake, 18, of Chicago, Rakiethieus Wesley, 28, of Lawrenceburg, and Leroy Love, 24, of Wisconsin — in exchange for a 35-year prison sentence. As a result of her revised statement about the events surrounding the fatal shootings, a fourth co-defendant, 23-year-old Morgan Crutchfield, was released from custody on his own recognizance.
Crutchfield still faces charges of complicity to murder, a capital offense.
Marsha Hall, Crutchfield’s aunt, said her nephew and Jared Moore had been close friends for years. She has struggled with her emotions while attending court hearings in the case because of how close the two were. Hall, as well, did not like the terms of Durrum’s agreement.
“I think Juanita and the other men should be in prison for life,” she said. “I think she’s a lot more involved than she is trying to portray.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said he attained approval from the families of the victims before entering into the plea agreement. He said that in homicide cases there is inherent displeasure with the course of prosecution, but negotiations are necessary.
“I’m not going to get evidence by going in and smiling and playing nice,” Cleveland said. “I have to get evidence to convict the most culpable perpetrator in the case.”
Part of Durrum’s plea agreement is to provide testimony that would corroborate numerous pieces of evidence at trial.
According to court records, hours before the June 26, 2018, fatal shooting, Crutchfield was in contact via Facebook Messenger with Johnson, relaying information that police believed to be an indication of a marijuana transaction with one of the perpetrators.
“Found for 300,” Crutchfield’s last message to Johnson reads.
“Bettttty that is lit af,” Johnson responds.
As part of Durrum’s testimony, she is expected to describe the group’s actions as they allegedly plotted the robbery on Alexander Street. She is also expected to tie herself, Leake, Love and Wesley to a string of masked armed robberies that preceded the fatal shooting, Cleveland said.
However, Mullins said the outcome of Durrum’s case was a miscarriage of justice.
“We’re not getting justice, and we’ve done everything (the prosecution) has asked,” she said. “My son no longer has a voice. We would be in a different situation with the passage of Marsy’s Law.”
Marsy's Law was a ballot measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018 to expand legal rights of crime victims, including the right to be heard at every stage of a criminal proceeding. It was overturned earlier this year after a decision by Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, who is presiding over the case of Johnson and Moore's deaths, on grounds the ballot language was inadequate.
All of the other defendants except Love face charges of two counts of complicity to murder, a capital offense, and two counts of complicity to first-degree robbery, a Class B felony. Love, who was later identified as the triggerman in court documents, is charged with two counts of murder.
Durrum pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of complicity to second-degree robbery and three counts of first-degree criminal conspiracy to robbery, all Class C felonies. She faces up to 35 years in prison on the combined charges.