Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO SEEK DEATH PENALTY AGAINST CONVICTED MURDERER IN NEW CASE FOR WHITE SUPREMACIST GANG CONSPIRACY EXECUTION
SANTA ANA – A convicted gang member serving time for a 2004 murder will face the death penalty for his involvement in the 2002 white supremacist gang conspiracy murder of a fellow gang member who divulged gang secrets on television. The People announced today at a pre-trial hearing that the Orange County District Attorney will seek the death penalty against Billy Joe Johnson, 44.
Johnson was charged August 23, 2007 with special circumstances murder, felony conspiracy to commit a crime, and felony accessory after the fact. He faces sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, being a gang member vicariously discharging a firearm causing death, murder by lying in wait, and murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose. Johnson also has three prior strike convictions for a 1983 residential burglary, a 1989 robbery, and for beating an inmate in prison in 1995. Johnson is currently serving a sentence of 45 years to life in prison following a 2006 conviction for a 2004 gang related murder. The defendant has a pre-trial scheduled on January 11, 2008 and faces trial on July 21, 2008 in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
In February of 2001, Fox 11 News broadcast a profile on a violent white supremacist criminal street gang that focused primarily on a pending case against known leaders of the gang who were on trial for conspiracy to commit murder. Scott Miller, a founding member of the gang, was featured in the broadcast, which offended fellow gang members because he was divulging gang secrets and airing what they considered “dirty laundry.” Miller’s voice and face were disguised on television, but his distinct tattoos were visible and made it possible for him to be identified by fellow gang members.
On March 8, 2002, Miller was at a party in Costa Mesa with other members of his white supremacist gang, including Johnson. Johnson is accused of luring Miller to leave the party, with the understanding that they would return later, under the guise of purchasing drugs in Anaheim. Johnson is accused of driving an unsuspecting Miller to an Anaheim apartment complex with the expectation that Michael Allen Lamb, now 33-years-old, and Jacob Anthony Rump, now 32-years-old, would be waiting there to murder the victim. Lamb and Rump were waiting in an alley near the apartment and executed Miller by shooting him in the back of the head at close range with a 9mm firearm.
On March 11, 2002, Lamb and Rump became involved in a police car chase in Anaheim. They tried to flee from police and jumped from the moving vehicle, and ran off into an apartment complex. As the officers attempted to close in on them, the defendants fired a shot at police officers. Lamb and Rump surrendered after the gun they were firing jammed. The gun used to shoot at the officers was the same 9mm that was used to murder Miller three days earlier.
During the murder trial of Lamb and Rump, Johnson is accused of lying on the stand by testifying that he had been the shooter in the murder of Miller. He is accused of lying in order to make himself a “martyr” for his gang by keeping Lamb and Rump out of prison. Johnson was brought to testify in Orange County from prison, where he is serving time for an unrelated 2004 gang murder in which he repeatedly hit a man in the head with a hammer.
Lamb and Rump were convicted on July 11, 2007 of murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, committing murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang, two counts of possession of a firearm by a violent felon, two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a firearm as an active gang member, two counts of street terrorism, and the attempted murder of a peace officer. The jury also found true the special circumstance of murder committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang and sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, and vicarious discharge of a firearm causing death as a gang member.
Rump was sentenced October 5, 2007 to life without the possibility of parole. The District Attorney is seeking the death penalty on Lamb, who was the shooter in the murder. A penalty phase, during which a jury will decide if Lamb should receive the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole, is scheduled February 4, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Following Lamb’s conviction, the jury participated in a penalty phase, but deadlocked when they were unable to reach a decision.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting these cases.