no avatar

Video of just-arrested murder suspect played

DEE GOODIN • Apr 21, 2007 at 12:42 PM

BLOUNTVILLE - Jurors in a capital murder trial focused on a videotape of the accused in a police cruiser after the man had allegedly shot a Bristol police officer in the face.

Nikolaus L. Johnson, 28, Bristol, Va., who is charged in the Nov. 27, 2004, shooting death of Bristol Police Officer Mark Vance, 30, was not aware the car's video camera had been turned on by BPD Officer Daniel Graham.

Graham, the second officer to arrive at 427 Belmont after Vance was shot, testified Thursday that after being placed in Graham's cruiser, he "could see that he was saying something in my cruiser ... I activated my remote."

Before jurors listened to the tape, Sullivan County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Beck advised them to disregard the music playing in the background on the tape, in case there were offensive lyrics.

The first song heard on the tape was "Bullets with Butterfly Wings," by the alternative rock group, Smashing Pumpkins. "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage. Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved," the song's chorus played repeatedly as Johnson alternately cursed and laughed, apparently in response to officers outside of the car.

"It ain't nothing but a life sentence or maybe the electric chair," Johnson said. "You're a (expletive) if you don't. You're a (expletive) if you don't. The law be dead. Find you a new job. I'm not the only one out there (expletive).

"I'm with it, (expletive), find you a new job. Check my resume, (expletive). I checked your name. I'll be coming to your house.

"Look me in the eyes when I'm talking to you. You see the other one don't you? Yeah, take me for a joke. (Laughter)

"(It) comes with the territory. They don't teach that in training. Lay down sweet, lay down easy. I'll do my time ... Don't take me for a joke."I've got plenty of (expletive) just like me."You nervous cop? No, I'm not, never. What the (expletive) you looking at? Find a new job."Does it hurt? ... Does it hurt? Hey boss, take me for life, you Uncle Tom. It don't feel good do it? That's how it feels when you take some (expletive) to jail and take away their life. That how it feels. (More laughter.)"

Jurors had previously heard the testimony of Tiffany Mitchell, twin sister of Britney Mitchell who testified yesterday she had called Johnson and the two had argued over her pregnancy. The call was the first of a chain of events that resulted in Vance's death. Tiffany Mitchell testified she saw Johnson shoot Vance in the face with a .357 Magnum single-action revolver.

She said that neither of the two men had spoken when the officer was shot.

Vance had been a full-time officer with BPD for 18 months when he was killed.

The family members of both Vance and Johnson have been in the courtroom for 10 days. Vance's widow, Tina, mother of his 11-year-old daughter, has not attended the proceedings.

Testimony resumes this morning at 9 a.m. Beck had considered holding court on Sunday, but instead chose to work into the afternoon today.

Recommended for You

    Kingsport Times News Videos