LAWRENCEVILLE - Police may have a slam-dunk case thanks to a DNA match identification of a suspect in a brutal 2003 homicide, but whether or not that man will ever stand trial is far from clear.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said Wednesday he will have to look at the Aisha Davis case and the history of the prime suspect in her slaying, 27-year-old Anton Johnson, before he decides about a possible prosecution. Johnson is already serving a 95-year prison sentence at Indiana State Prison for fatally shooting two other women in Gary, Ind., in January 2003.
"We could go forward with the case, bring him to Georgia, try him and send him back to that state to finish that sentence and then serve ours," Porter said. "Until we look at the case, I can't decide."
Earlier this week, Gwinnett police received word that DNA of the suspected killer collected from Davis' apartment matched Johnson's DNA profile on the national DNA database known as CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System. Authorities must get a warrant to get a DNA sample from Johnson or solicit a voluntary sample to officially confirm those results.
Authorities said Johnson and Davis were acquaintances. Davis was a single mother who lived at Alexander Apartments on Montrose Parkway in Norcross. Johnson was staying with his cousin in the same complex.
Police sent to check on her welfare on Dec. 5, 2003, found Davis dead from more than 20 stab wounds inside her apartment. There were no suspects and the case had grown cold until the DNA match this week, said Detective J.D. Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Porter said in examining the case, he will have to determine if county resources should be expended to prosecute a man who is already serving a life sentence, and if transporting Johnson here to stand trial would present a danger to the community.
For example, Joseph Paul Franklin has admitted he shot Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his local attorney outside the Gwinnett County Courthouse in 1978 "but I am not going to bring that inmate to Gwinnett County," Porter said.
"(Franklin) is on death row in (Missouri) and it's not worth the security risk to bring that inmate back," Porter explained.
Johnson was convicted in September 2005 of murder and involuntary manslaughter in the Jan. 14, 2003, deaths of 30-year-old Regina West and Tasha A. Johnson, 30, at West's home in Gary, Ind.
Prosecutors there alleged Johnson argued with Tasha Johnson (who was not related to him) when she asked him for money he owed her, according to the Gary Post-Tribune. Johnson reportedly reached into his back pocket, pulled out a handgun and shot Tasha Johnson. He then pursued West from the home and gunned her down in her car.
Afia Stevens, the 33-year-old sister of Davis, said a police detective explained the case might not be prosecuted when he broke the news about the DNA match to her family on Tuesday. However, Stevens said she would be disappointed if Johnson is never brought to justice in Gwinnett.
"That person is off the street, but I really wanted us to have our day in court to sit across from him and look him in the eye," Davis said. "This is someone who barely knew my sister. I wish he could know what he took from us."