The lawyer for a man accused of shooting to death a Pennsylvania game warden nearly two years ago said Monday as the trial began that her client killed the officer but did not intend to do so.
Christopher Johnson, 29, faces a possible death sentence in the November 2010 killing of wildlife conservation officer David Grove.
The Evening Sun of Hanover, Pa., reported that Adams County prosecutor Kevin Steele said Johnson was motivated to kill because he did not want to go back to jail.
Jurors were told the two men fired 25 shots in the exchange that left Grove dead and Johnson wounded. Johnson, a convicted felon who’s not allowed to carry a gun, was arrested the next day.
Johnson’s lawyer, Kristin Rice, said Johnson did not intend to kill Grove, a question that could determine whether Johnson will face the death penalty. She said Johnson fired 15 rounds and Grove fired 10.
Grove was shot to death after confronting a man over poaching in a rural area near Gettysburg, and police have said Johnson admitted he did it because he was a felon in possession of a gun. Johnson was arrested after a massive manhunt.
Steele told jurors that Johnson pulled a .45-caliber handgun from his waistband after Grove began to handcuff him, the newspaper reported. Grove was shot four times, including once in the head. Johnson was hit twice.
Along with first- and third-degree murder charges, Johnson also faces a count of flight to avoid apprehension, and firearms and hunting law charges.
Grove was a graduate of Grace Academy in Hagerstown. He lived in Waynesboro, Pa., before moving to Fairfield, Pa.
Editor's note: A photo that appeared in an earlier online version of this story was not that of Christopher Johnson.