|Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
|For Immediate Release
Case # 07CF2849November 23, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
Cell: 714-292-2718Farrah Emami
WHITE SUPREMACIST GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO DEATH PENALTY FOR CONSPIRACY MURDER OF FELLOW GANG MEMBER WHO DIVULGED GANG SECRETS ON TV
*One co-defendant was also sentenced to the death penalty; the third was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole
SANTA ANA – A white supremacist gang member was sentenced today to the death penalty for his involvement in the 2002 gang conspiracy murder of a fellow gang member who divulged gang secrets on television. Billy Joe Johnson, 46, was found guilty Oct. 14, 2009, of one felony count each of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and accessory after the fact. The sentencing enhancements for criminal street gang activity, the vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member causing death, murder by lying in wait, and murder committed for a criminal street gang purpose were found true. Johnson has three prior strike convictions for a 1983 residential burglary, 1989 robbery, and for beating an inmate in prison in 1995. He is currently serving a sentence of 45 years to life in state prison for a 2006 conviction for a 2004 gang related murder. A jury recommended the death penalty Oct. 29, 2009.
Johnson was charged with this murder Aug. 23, 2007, after the conviction of two previously charged co-defendants. Co-defendants Michael Allen Lamb, 35, and Jacob Anthony Rump, 34, (Case #03CF0441) were convicted by a jury on July 10, 2007, of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, 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. On Oct. 5, 2007, Rump was sentenced to the maximum sentence, as sought by the People, of life without the possibility of parole. On June 11, 2008, a jury recommended that Lamb receive the death penalty. Lamb was sentenced Aug. 22, 2008, to death.
The Murder of Scott Miller
In February 2001, Fox 11 News profiled a violent white supremacist criminal street gang, focusing on a pending criminal 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, offending fellow gang members who felt he was airing “dirty laundry.” While Miller’s voice and face were disguised, his tattoos were visible and made it possible for fellow gang members to identify him.
On March 8, 2002, Miller was at a party in Costa Mesa with other members of his white supremacist gang. Johnson lured Miller from the party under the guise of purchasing drugs in Anaheim with the understanding that they would return to the party later. Johnson drove an unsuspecting Miller to an Anaheim apartment complex with the expectation that Lamb and Rump would be waiting there to murder the victim. Lamb and Rump were waiting in an alley 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, 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.
The Trial Against Lamb and Rump
During the murder trial against Lamb and Rump, Johnson lied on the stand by testifying that he had been the shooter in the murder of Miller. He lied in order to make himself a “martyr” for his gang by attempting to keep Lamb and Rump out of prison. In order to testify, Johnson was brought to Orange County from state prison, where he is serving time for an unrelated 2004 gang murder, where he repeatedly hit a man in the head with a hammer.
The Penalty Phase Against Johnson
During the penalty phase of the jury trial against Johnson, the defendant admitted to committing two additional murders to which he had not been previously connected. Without giving the names of the victims, Johnson admitted that he had killed one additional man while out of custody and one inmate while in custody. The defendant claimed that he directed violence toward gang members, rapists, “rats”, and drug dealers.
Johnson testified that his victims brought their murders upon themselves and when asked if he had anything to say to Miller’s mother, Johnson replied, “Sorry for your luck.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.