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Man whose testimony helped convict father, stepmother in teen brothers' murders sentenced to 8 years prison

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David Johnson V

David Johnson V

CROWN POINT — The man whose testimony helped convict his father and stepmother in the brutal murders three years ago of two teenage brothers from Gary was sentenced Friday to 8 years in prison for his role in the brothers' kidnappings.

David Johnson V, 22, appeared Friday in custody before Judge Diane Boswell.

He was the last defendant waiting to be sentenced for his role in the deaths of his friends — Arreon Lackey, 18, and Antonio Lackey, 16 — who were kidnapped from a Merrillville hotel room June 26, 2015, and shot execution-style in a remote area of Hobart.

Johnson was initially charged with the murders alongside his father, grandfather, brother and stepmother. He turned state witness in August 2016, pleading guilty to two felony kidnapping offenses, and helped the state cement its case against his co-defendants, providing crucial insight into the motive for the murders.

He testified at both trials last summer for David Johnson IV, 40, and his stepmother, Jeri Woods, 36. He told the jury on April 28, 2015 — two months before the Lackey brothers' murders — he helped his father find and murder Alfred Wiley, 46, who was gunned down in the 5900 block of East Third Street in Gary.

David Johnson V said the gun used in that murder was stolen by Arreon Lackey, who was friends with his younger brother and co-defendant, Aarion Greenwood. The family kidnapped the Lackey brothers in an attempt to retrieve the firearm. When that failed, his father and stepmother decided to kill them.

Kiontay Cason, another defendant turned state witness, testified it was Woods who marched the brothers into a wooded area of Hobart, forced them to strip nude and shot each of them dead.

David Johnson IV and Woods were both convicted for the brothers' murders. David Johnson IV was also convicted of murdering Wiley.

The other defendants have all pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges. They are David Johnson III, 65; Cason, 24; Greenwood, 20; and Michelle Hughes, 29.

Supervisory Prosecutor Robert Persin said Friday without David Johnson V's cooperation, the state would never have been able to file charges against his father for Wiley's murder. He said he had spoken with David Johnson V at length, and he believed the defendant felt “tremendous remorse” for his role in the deaths.

Persin said the Lackey brothers' mother and stepfather, Tia Moore and Julian Moore, recommended David Johnson V receive a four-year prison sentence for each of the kidnapping offenses.

Defense attorney Robert Lewis requested the judge sentence his client to time served, about three years.

David Johnson V said he was sorry to his family and the Lackey family. He said he learned life was about choices, both right and wrong ones, and he hoped to prove this crime does not define his character.

“I made a terrible mistake and surrounded myself with bad people,” he said.

Boswell said she was “blown away” by the state's recommended sentence.

She said she expected to hand down a more severe sentence, but she assented to the parents' wishes.

Boswell urged the defendant to be aware of the compassion shown. It showed people believed in him.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.

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