Prosecution seeks death penalty for man in store clerk's fiery murder

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 6:10 PM

GARLAND -- Guilt has already been decided in the murder case against Matthew Lee Johnson.

Videos from a Garland convenience store convinced jury that Johnson set Nancy Harris on fire. The question now is, did Johnson kill her intentionally?

If the answer is yes, that could mean the death penalty.

In court Thursday, the prosecution made the case that Johnson deserves the death penalty. They called a host of witnesses in an attempt to establish Johnson’s character and his state of mind.

Carl Jenkins was an inmate who got into a fight with Johnson while both were in prison.

“With communication, I think we could’ve worked it out," Jenkins said on the stand. "Now, I’m hurt and I’m real mad."

Johnson's former girlfriend said during a domestic disturbance in 1993 Johnson tried to set her back porch on fire while she and her children were home.

"Because if you can throw something over the patio - knowing how my patio was - my kids was right here," Amy Franks said. "It was like the patio and their room was right here. So they would’ve gone first. My room was way on the other side."

The prosecution is expected to wrap up its part of the sentencing phase Friday and the defense will begin next week, asking the jury to spare Johnson’s life.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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