Girlfriend identifies defendant as Savannah man who killed boyfriend in 2015

Reginald Johnson

The girlfriend of slain Savannahian John Williams testified on Wednesday he was shot and killed during a quarrel with the man charged with murder in the case.


“I’m trying to get either one to back down really,” Sequoia Sanders told a Chatham County Superior Court jury. “I just moved out of the way and I heard the shots.”

Reginald Marcell Johnson, 26, is on trial for murder and related charges in the slaying of Williams, 22, who was shot twice and killed on the front steps of 14 A Sterling St. near Wheaton Street on Nov. 11, 2015.

The fatal shooting followed what Sanders described as a “back and forth” dispute between the two men with her trying to intervene. She said Williams was her boyfriend and the father of the child she was six-months pregnant with at the time.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty.

Testimony resumes Thursday before Judge Louisa Abbot and the jury.

Assistant District Attorney Noah Abrams told jurors in his opening statement Wednesday the defendant shot and killed Williams “without any justification.”

The two men, who he said “didn’t care for each other much,” were quarreling, but that the fight never turned physical until Williams was shot and killed.

Afterward Johnson kept changing his story several times in a bid to “cover up his crimes,” Abrams said.

Chief Assistant Public Defender Bill Lewis told jurors there were issues between the prosecution and defense that could not be resolved, leading to the jury trial.

He promised jurors that Johnson would testify “and tell you his side of the story,” and urged jurors to keep an open mind until they hear all the evidence.

Sanders, the state’s first witness, told jurors she knew the defendant as “Bud” from the Fred Wessels Homes neighborhood and knew he sold marijuana.

She testified she was home cooking with her mother, Williams and her 4-year-old son when she heard Williams going back and forth with the defendant outside.

The quarrel continued and at one point Johnson, in a white Chevrolet Malibu, began to drive off before stopping nearby and continuing the confrontation.

“As the argument went on, I was in the middle,” she told jurors, adding that she heard Williams ask, “What you got a gun for ?”

Sanders said she did not see the gun until after the shots were fired and that Williams did not have a gun.

On her 911 call to Savannah-Chatham police, Sanders did not identify the gunman.

“I knew who did it at the scene,” she told Abrams. “I didn’t know what would happen (afterward) so I didn’t really want to say anything about it.”

Also in response to the prosecutor, Sanders testified she was approached “altogether three times” by two men she identified as Swag and G with offers totaling $10,0000 to change her testimony.