By Natalie Fultz
COLUMBUS, GA - Michael Johnson, the prime suspect in the 2011 murder of Steve Toms, appeared in Recorders Court Friday. Johnson is being charged with murder, armed robbery, and weapons charges.
It's been almost two years since 63-year-old Steve Toms was fatally shot, but on Friday 29-year-old Michael Johnson was charged with the murder.
"This is at the very initial stage. He was just served with this warrant yesterday. He is maintaining his innocence," Robert Wadkins, Jr. says.
Johnson has been in jail since pleading guilty to a 2012 armed robbery. Columbus Police detective Andrew Tyner started investigating Johnson after a concerned citizen came to the police department with information about Johnson's alleged involvement in the murder.
"I believe they got his name through Mr. Soloman (Johnson's cousin) mentioning it to the concerned citizen who we don't know who that is," Wadkins says.
When police questioned Johnson, he stated that he was at his mother's house during the time of Toms murder and didn't know where the Gold and Silver Trading Company was located, but later Johnson drew a layout of the business when accusing his cousin of the murder.
"Once Mr. Kelly asked the detective how detailed the diagram was, he said it wasn't detailed. Our position would be that the diagram would be consistent with someone who had it described to them."
Subpoenaed records of Johnson's cell phone show that Johnson was not at his mothers but was in the area of the murder. Johnson changed his story claiming to be at a recording studio.
"I can't speak on the inconsistencies if there are any. Once again, the statements are all without context," Wadkins says.
When back in jail, Johnson made calls to friends instructing them on his alibi. Cash and jewelry were stolen from the business, yet none were recovered at Johnson's residence.
Johnson is being held without bond for murder and armed robbery, but for his other two charges possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and by a convicted felon, his bond is set to $200,000.
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