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Young Man on Trial for Murder in Superior

Updated: 05/19/2014 11:08 PM
Created: 05/19/2014 6:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

A 22-year-old man is on trial for murder in Douglas County after investigators said he shot and killed a Superior man in January of 2012.

Tiawain Johnson faces a felony, first-degree intentional homicide charge. Police said he shot Toriano Cooper and left the area for Chicago. Police said Cooper robbed Johnson before the shooting.

After hours of jury selection, nine women and four men were finally chosen as jurors. Johnson's attorney Aaron Nelson wanted to make sure a bias decision was not made based on race. He pointed out that Johnson was the only black man in the courtroom.

Opening statements got underway late Monday afternoon. That's when both the prosecution and defense summarize and introduce their case.

District Attorney Dan Blank called the case straightforward. He said Johnson admitted to the shooting to several people.

Nelson said those witnesses are not innocent and may be benefiting from plea deals.

"He's relying on the words of these three people, two of which he calls in his own letters to them, Chicago gangsters," Nelson said.

Blank also admitted many of the witnesses have criminal records.

"Everyone is going to have baggage with their testimony," Blank said. "They are all convicted criminals; they come from jails and prisons. Some have plea bargains, some don't. You're going to listen to their evidence...and you're going to sort out what makes sense and what doesn't."

Blank said the victim was also involved with drugs.

The murder trial is expected to take several days and many witnesses will be called to the stand.

People who knew the victim were at Monday's trial, but did not want to comment until a final decision is made.

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