ShareThis Page
News

East Hills man gets life in 2004 double slaying of man, girl

| Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

A judge sentenced an East Hills man Monday to two consecutive life sentences plus 35 to 70 years for kidnapping and killing a Wilkinsburg man and his girlfriend.

An Allegheny County jury spared Lester Johnson's life when it deadlocked in May over whether he should die by lethal injection for killing James R. Jones, 26, and Shawnte Betts, 17, in 2004.

Johnson, 25, maintained his innocence. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in addition to kidnapping, conspiracy and unlawful restraint.

The mother of one victim called the sentence bittersweet.

"It's not bringing my daughter back. She would have been 22 now," said Tiffanee Smith, 40, of the North Side. "But his fate is sealed."

Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski imposed the sentence.

Dan Fitzsimmons, chief trial deputy for the District Attorney's Office, told the jury Johnson attacked the couple in Lincoln-Lemington. Police found Jones' body a day later in a Toyota Camry parked off Marlboro Avenue in Wilkinsburg. He was shot several times.

Betts' body was found in a wooded area nearby. She died from a bullet wound in the head, police said.

Several eyewitnesses identified Johnson. No physical evidence linked him to the scene.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me