A Whitfield County teenager who was charged in 2010 with strangling his grandmother to death will be tried as a juvenile.
Joshua Jaran Johnson was indicted by a Whitfield County grand jury in May 2011, but his attorneys later argued that because the state failed to indict him within 180 days while he was being “detained,” he should have his case transferred to juvenile court as state law dictates. The District Attorney’s office argued the definition of “detained” since Johnson wore an ankle monitor with restrictions on where he could go for most of that time but was not in jail.
Superior Court Judge David Blevins ruled in 2012 that Johnson, who was 15 when he was charged with murder, be tried as a juvenile because of the delayed indictment. Johnson has pleaded not guilty, and at least one family member has publicly said he is innocent of murdering Lorraine Frazier. Johnson’s attorney, L. David Wolfe, has not returned calls since the ruling.
The district attorney’s office appealed Blevins’ decision to the Georgia Supreme Court. Justice David E. Nahmias dismissed the appeal, writing in an opinion on Feb. 4 the state didn’t have the right under state law to appeal for a transfer back to Superior Court.
The opinion, which was unanimous, essentially ensures Johnson will be tried as a juvenile. It doesn’t address the definition of “detained.”
District Attorney Bert Poston said once the case is formally transferred it is out of his jurisdiction.
“At that point, the proceedings will no longer be public, and I will not be able to comment further, even once the case is concluded,” he said.