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Westmoreland

Plum man pleads guilty in fatal New Ken shooting

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, 6:06 p.m.
Daniel T. Johnson
Daniel T. Johnson

Self-defense claims were abandoned Thursday by an Allegheny County man who pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree murder and other offenses in connection with a 2016 fatal shooting in New Kensington.

Daniel Johnson, 28, of Plum, originally claimed he acted to protect himself when he shot and killed 22-year-old Lorenzo Lewis on a New Kensington street on Nov. 10, 2016.

Defense lawyer Nicole Nino said Johnson opted to plead guilty to the murder charge in exchange for a promise by federal authorities not to prosecute him for a series of suspected gun purchases he was linked to following his arrest for the fatal shooting.

Police said Lewis, of New Kensington, was shot twice in the chest during a scuffle that followed threats the victim made with a gun while standing on the street as Johnson and a woman drove past.

The woman, who previously testified at a prior court hearing, claimed she was Lewis' former girlfriend and attempted to stop Johnson from firing as they drove down the street.

To serve at least 12 12 years

In court on Thursday, Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani sentenced Johnson to the terms of the plea bargain. Johnson was ordered to serve 12 12 to 25 years in prison.

As part of the deal, Johnson also pleaded guilty to seven counts of illegal firearms possession in connection with seven handguns found in a safe that police said he arranged to have purchased for him by others.

Westmoreland County Detective John Clark said Johnson, as a convicted felon, was prohibited from owning guns. He used seven friends to make straw purchases of the guns, Clark said.

Nino said federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh agreed to turn over the gun case to Westmoreland County.

Johnson was previously sentenced three times by federal judges, including a two-year prison sentence for stealing guns from a New Kensington armory in 2009.

He is serving a federal probation term after convictions for drug and gun possession convictions.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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