Quaneesha Johnson’s murder trial captivated the nation. The question jurors had to answer was whether Quaneesha intended to kill her boyfriend, Demonte Smith, or whether she acted in self-defense. The jury acquitted Quaneesha on charges of malice murder. However, the panel found her guilty of aggravated assault, voluntary manslaughter, and cruelty to children.
Quaneesha Johnson shot Demonte Smith after requesting the police for protection
On 26th November 2022, Quaneesha called the police requesting protection from Demonte. Quaneesha claimed that Demonte, an ex-felon, had threatened her for staying out late. The couple were arguing when police arrived at the Quaneesha’s residence. Officers at the scene said Quaneesha ‘repeatedly antagonized’ Smith.
The police reportedly requested the couple to cool down inside their home. Quaneesha later exited the house and retrieved a tire iron and a handgun from her vehicle. She asked one of the officers what would happen if she shot Demonte in self-defense. The officer said Quaneesha would have to prove that it was self-defense.
The police were still outside when Quaneesha shot Demonte. Ring camera footage and police body cam recordings show Smith exiting the house while claiming Quaneesha had shot him. “She hit me with the metal thing first, bro,” Demonte said, “and then she shot me. Hurry up before I die.” Unfortunately, Demonte succumbed to his injuries.
Heartbreaking footage of Quaneesha’s kids screaming for their mother as she got arrested surfaced on the internet. The prosecution alleged that Johnson’s 8-year-old daughter witnessed the shooting. The only other person in the home at the time was Johnson’s then-2-month-old baby.
Quaneesha testified that Demonte was staying with her because he had nowhere to go after being released from prison. She claimed she called the police because Demonte had threatened and assaulted her two weeks prior. Quaneesha said she tried to get the authorities to protect her from Demonte. She added that she was scared when the police left her with Demonte.
She stated that she didn’t intend for the shooting to happen. Quaneesha acknowledged that she didn’t inform the police about Demonte’s criminal past or show them the alleged threats from Demonte. Her daughter said Demonte hit Quaneesha with a pole, and she hit with a vacuum cleaner. She stated that she heard the gunshot but didn’t see Quaneesha pull out the gun.
Quaneesha was sentenced to 10 years of confinement and 10 years of probation
The jury deliberated for four hours before acquitting Quaneesha of murder and convicting her of voluntary manslaughter. The judge sentenced Quaneesha to 10 years of confinement and 10 years of probation. She directed that Quaneesha serve the first five years of her sentence in prison and the final five years at home.
The judge agreed with the defense that the police hadn’t done enough to protect Quaneesha and Demonte. “At some point, you will return home, but Demonte Smith will not,” the judge stated. Quaneesha was released on bond as she awaits the appeal.
Defense attorney Michael Sterling said the defense would first present a motion for a new trial on the basis of alleged witness tampering. As the jury deliberated, Sterling said in court that a potential witness for the defense had decided not to testify after meeting with the victim’s family.
Sterling stated that the defense would wait for a decision on the new trial motion before filing an appeal. The attorney said the witness tampering allegation may have influenced the judge to release Quaneesha on bond after her sentencing.
“You don’t see it happen a lot,” Sterling talked to Court TV about Quaneesha’s post-sentencing release. “What the judge knows is that we were looking for a missing witness that was critical to our case. I don’t know if that played into the judge’s decision.” Quaneesha said outside the court that she was remorseful but didn’t think there was anything she could have done differently the night Demonte died.