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Jury convicts Pittsburgh man for Homestead slaying

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 2:15 p.m.
An Allegheny County jury on Wednesday convicted Wilbert Keith Johnson, 37, of Allentown of first-degree murder.

A Pittsburgh man will spend the rest of his life in prison for fatally shooting another man in October.

An Allegheny County jury found Wilbert Keith Johnson, 37, of the city's Allentown neighborhood guilty on Wednesday of first-degree murder for killing Qaeed Braxton, 36, of Duquesne near the intersection of Amity Street and Eight Avenue in Homestead.

Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel will sentence Johnson within 90 days. The mandatory penalty for first-degree murder is life in prison.

Prosecutors said Johnson shot Braxton after they and another man argued about a woman.

Assistant District Attorney William Petulla said Braxton and his friends left the Ragtime Bar about 12:37 a.m. Oct. 18, and Johnson left less than a minute later. Johnson retrieved a gun from his car and caught up with them down the street, Petulla said, where Johnson fired a single shot that hit Braxton in the back.

Johnson initially denied being at the bar, then said he was there but left. He finally told police that he fired one shot in self-defense when two men jumped him.

His lawyer, Annie Marie Mancuso, said in her closing argument that prosecutors wanted the jury to convict Johnson because “he wasn't initially truthful.”

“We are not denying that a shooting occurred,” but Johnson did not do it, Mancuso said.

Petulla said security video from within the bar, witnesses and other evidence indicated otherwise.

“Self-defense is a sham defense,” he said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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