Newport News, Va. – Prosecutors say he brutally, maliciously and mercilessly murdered a 73-year-old man.
Darren Johnson is one of two people charged in the killing of Tommy Alley, who went missing from Newport News back in February of 2012.
His body was found in an abandoned house in Hampton on March 8th, and Wednesday, a jury saw a picture of the crime scene.
Prosecutors say the murder weapon was a roll of duct tape that led to Alley’s suffocation.
“They wrap it around his face, wrap it, wrap it, literally mummifying him, all the way up to his eyes, covering his mouth, and covering his nose,” said Hampton Commonwealth Attorney Anton Bell.
So what was the motive?
The Commonwealth Attorney laid out a timeline for jurors. He says on February 17th, Johnson and his accomplice, Wanda Dobbins, robbed a Home Depot on Armistead Avenue, pulling a box cutter on employees who tried to catch them.
The two wanted to flee to Georgia, so Dobbins asked her lover, Tommy Alley, for his truck.
Prosecutors say the old man made the mistake of saying no.
“Tortured, for what? A truck?” said Bell to jurors.
The case, though, suddenly came to a grinding halt during the defense’s opening statements.
“There is another victim in this case. That’s my client, Darren Johnson. He’s a victim because these charges, if convicted, would basically end his life,” said Stephen K. Smith.
The Commonwealth Attorney immediately stood up, making a motion for mistrial.
According to Virginia case law, statements about any potential punishments or sentences for a conviction are not allowed in a trial.
So after spending hours picking a jury, they were all told their services were no longer needed after the judge ordered a mistrial.
With no new trial date scheduled, the mistake now forces the family of Tommy Alley to wait even longer for their day in court.