Judge appoints private counsel for Kelvin Johnson trial

Declaring the capital defender system “systemically broken,” Superior Court Judge David Roper said Tuesday that he would remove state-appointed attorneys from the death penalty trial of Kelvin Johnson.

The announcement came at a hearing Monday in which the Capital Defender Office requested another delay in trying the case of Johnson, who is charged with the 2009 homicide of Martha Greene. Johnson was scheduled for trial Aug. 6 on charges of aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary and murder.

Roper said the continued delays are affecting both the state’s rights and the defendant’s rights and that he was finished granting continuences. Instead, he will appoint private counsel to handle the case.

“I am going to make sure that the Supreme Court is aware of what trial judges, district attorneys and defendants are having to put up with and encounter with regard to the Capital Defender Office,” Roper said.

The indictment against Johnson stems from Aug. 26, 2009, when Johnson pulled up on a bicycle to Tilman Coley “T.C.” Green’s open garage and shot him in the face, according to previous reports and court proceedings. Investigators say Johnson then walked into the couple’s home and fatally shot Martha Greene, 69.

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