MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The man wanted for the murder of rapper Young Dolph is still on the run Monday night. Over the weekend, a post on what is believed to be Justin Johnson’s Instagram account said the 23-year-old planned to himself in on Monday, but that has not happened.
We spoke with the judge who signed off on letting Johnson out of prison months into a five-year sentence. Justin Johnson pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault after shooting three people at a bowling alley in early 2017. But, even though he was sentenced to years in prison, he was out by that Christmas.
“It’s called the Department of Corrections not the Department of Punishment,” said Judge Chris Craft, Shelby County Criminal Court. In late 2017 Shelby County Judge Chris Craft approved a motion to suspend Justin Johnson’s five-year prison sentence after Johnson had served a little more than five months.
”He appeared to be a very impressive young man without a record, and he always admitted to everything he did,” said Craft.
Memphis Police and US Marshals said the now 23-year-old Johnson gunned down Young Dolph just four years later. So why can a man who shot three people at a bowling alley walk free so quickly?
It’s a question many people are asking, including Memphis’s mayor during an appearance on FOX13′s Good Morning Memphis Monday.
”If you’re guilty of aggravated assault, and that’s shooting a weapon from one person to another person, there’s no mandatory jail time,” said Jim Strickland, Memphis Mayor.
Documents show, just months after he was released, Johnson was arrested again for having guns and drugs.
”The federal court prosecuted him for the gun and drug charges, and when I gave him five years, then I signed an order sending him to federal court, and that’s the last we heard of him,” said Craft.
“People are getting off with little to no jail time,” said Strickland.
Mayor Strickland hopes Tennessee legislators approve a bill to strengthen the penalty for aggravated assault.
”When you commit a violent act, you have to serve time. It has to punish and has to be a deterrent for others,” said Strickland.
”They’re not animals, and they shouldn’t be locked up in cages unless there’s no other way out,” said Craft.
We reached out to Johnson’s attorney, Art Horne, on Monday. Horne said if and when he speaks it will be after his client turns himself in.
©2022 Cox Media Group