A former Farmers Branch police officer will likely learn Tuesday how many years he will spend in prison on for murdering a teenager he found breaking into his car.
Kenneth Johnson, 37, was convicted of murder and aggravated assault December 19 in the death of 16-year old Jose Cruz. Edgar Rodriguez, who was 16 at the time, survived but lost a finger and was shot in the ear.
The same jury returned Monday to begin the punishment phase of the trial.
The jury will continue deliberations on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
Jurors for the first time heard from Johnson when he took the stand to express his remorse for killing Cruz and injuring Rodriguez.
"It's tragic," Johnson said. "To Mr. Cruz's family, I'm sorry. I'm very remorseful. I really mean that."
Jurors were not able to view the shackles around Johnson's ankles. He has been in custody since his conviction.
Johnson admitted he was angry when he spotted two teens stealing third-row seats from his SUV back on March 13, 2016.
Johnson then admitted to pursuing the teens off-duty, not in uniform and at high speeds down on Marsh Lane heading into Addison.
Jurors saw surveillance video during the trial that showed Johnson spun out the Red Dodge Challenger that Cruz was driving.
Johnson on the stand today told jurors that he didn't intend to make contact with the vehicle but did so after Cruz slowed down.
Dallas County prosecutor Jason Hermus reminded Johnson the black box data recorder on Cruz's car reported no deceleration.
"Is that black box wrong," Hermus questioned. "It could be," Johnson replied.
After crashing in a busy intersection, Johnson approached and fired 16 rounds into the vehicle.
Testimony from 27 witnesses during the trial indicated Johnson never identified himself as a police officer before he opened fire.
Johnson told jurors he could see into the vehicle, despite the tinted windows, before he opened fire.
"He (Cruz) took his hands off the steering wheel and reached down, that’s when my heart jumped out of my chest," Johnson said.
On cross examination prosecutors clarified after Cruz was dead, Johnson took aim at Rodriguez firing 4-6 rounds at his head, despite no evidence he posed a threat.
"You opened the door to get a clean shot at Edgar," Hermus said.
Ana Henriquez heard every detail in the courtroom today. Jose Cruz's mother told jurors through an interpreter about the immeasurable pain of burying a child.
Defense attorneys told jurors Johnson deserved only two years in prison for the murder, asking them to find Johnson acted in "sudden passion" when he pursued the teens and fired 16 rounds in a busy intersection.
Dallas County prosecutor Jason Hermus asked jurors to reject that claim and sentence Johnson to life in prison. Hermus told jurors it was "vitally important" they get the punishment right and send a message to the few officers who "lose their way and go astray."
"When the evidence proves you’ve done wrong you will be punished severely because we give you enormous power over us," Hermus said.
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