FLORENCE — Kenneth Barnett said he has waited a long time to see the man accused of his son’s death to come to trial.
“This has been a long battle,” said Barnett. “I’m ready for the trial to get started and to get this over with.”
Jury selection begins today in Lauderdale Circuit Judge Gil Self’s courtroom in the murder trial of Alfred Shawn Johnson, 42, who is charged with murder in the beating death of Keith Barnett.
Keith Barnett was found unconscious in a ditch on Alabama 17 near the Tennessee state line on July 29, 2000. He died Sept. 21, 2000, in a hospital without regaining consciousness.
Johnson and his brother, Shannon Ray Johnson, 43, were arrested in May 2011, almost 10 years after the 22-year-old Barnett was found.
Shannon Johnson, who was also charged with murder at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year and agreed to testify against his brother.
Shannon Johnson received a 20-year sentence, the maximum sentence for manslaughter.
Courthouse officials said the plea agreement requires Shannon Johnson to provide truthful testimony during the trial.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said jury selection will begin today.
“We expect it to take all day,” Connolly said. “I doubt that we get the opening remarks or any testimony in today. I fully expect opening remarks to begin Tuesday morning.”
Shawn Johnson is being represented by Florence attorneys Dustin McCown and Jamy Poss.
Poss said he believes the case could take more than a week to be heard.
“We’re ready to go and get it started,” he said.
Authorities believe Barnett was attacked and beaten in Tennessee and his body dumped in the roadway on Alabama 17. The indictment against Shawn Johnson indicates Barnett was beaten with a baseball bat.
Investigators received information in 2008 that eventually lead to the indictments.
The information was given to a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement cold case unit.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.