Originally created 05/27/01

Officers arrest son in father's beating death



AIKEN - An ongoing family argument ended tragically Saturday after police say an angry son bludgeoned his father to death.

Aiken County authorities said Lamont S. Johnson, 21, attacked his father from behind while he was getting the morning paper.

The arrest warrant says Bracey C. Johnson, 53, was beaten repeatedly with a blunt object, but authorities say they don't know what was used in the slaying.

An autopsy is scheduled for today in Newberry, S.C., to confirm the exact cause of death.

Investigators said Bracey Johnson's wife, Gwendolyn, found her husband lying unconscious in the driveway of their home on Alex Johnson Drive at 5:37 Saturday morning.

She immediately called 911.

Less than 10 minutes later, sheriff's deputies put her son, who lived with his parents, in a patrol car for questioning at the county jail. By early afternoon they had charged Lamont Johnson with murder after his father died of massive head trauma at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Lt. Michael Frank said.

An Aiken County magistrate could not set bond for the younger Mr. Johnson late Saturday because of the severity of the charge. That will be left to a circuit judge next month.

If found guilty, Lamont Johnson could be put to death.

Before a guard brought him out to face his family at Saturday night's bond hearing, Magistrate Gibson Fallaw told them he "would not tolerate outbursts."

"I realize there is a lot of tension in this courtroom, but it will not be displayed," the judge said. "Keep it under control."

Shackled and handcuffed, Lamont Johnson shuffled into the courtroom just inches away from his grief-stricken family seated in the jury box.

He remained expressionless as he turned to stare at the group of 14 people, including his mother, who attended the hearing. When the judge read aloud the charge of murder, family members silently wept.

Before returning to his jail cell, Lamont Johnson turned to his family and said, "I didn't do it."

Bracey Johnson's death is the third in Aiken County in four weeks.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.