BALTIMORE Deena Barnes the older sister of slain Monroe teenager Phylicia Barnes tearfully said Monday she had allowed her sister to drift too close to the man now accused of murdering her.
During Michael Johnsons murder trial Monday, prosecutors played for the jurors a 16-minute video they said depicted Deena Barnes and Johnson, along with Phylicia and Johnsons younger brother kissing and nakedly touching after leaving a June 2010 party on a dare that they go streaking together.
Barnes dabbed her eyes with a tissue, acknowledging that her teenage sister, on that night and others, became intoxicated, smoked marijuana and spent the night in the same room with boys.
What were you thinking at the time? asked Assistant States Attorney Lisa Goldberg.
I wasnt, said Barnes, her voice lowered and a swoop of hair covering her right eye.
Johnson faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Phylicia, who, while visiting from Monroe, vanished from her sisters Baltimore apartment on Dec. 28, 2010. Johnson was the last person known to have seen her alive. Her nude body was found four months later in the Susquehanna River.
The defense challenged Deena Barnes story, questioning her actions after realizing her sister was missing and raising doubts about whether she had a reason to be upset with Phylicia. Ivan Bates, one of four attorneys representing Johnson, noted that Barnes told police investigators that Johnson was never violent during their relationship, and that she had never had any qualms about Phylicia being around him.
They also sought to paint Phylicia not as an innocent teenager, but as a rebellious girl who was allowed to act as an adult when in Baltimore and who befriended strangers on social media.
Prosecutors have described the nude romp on the night of June 13, 2010, as a turning point, leading to 1,300 text messages between Johnson and Phylicia.
Circuit Court Judge Alfred Nance earlier denied a request by prosecutors to close the courtroom when playing the tape for jurors, but it was played with the television screen turned away from spectators in the courtroom.
Voices could be heard giggling and joking, followed by periods of silence during which kissing noises were audible. At one point, the man filming on Deena Barnes cell phone remarks that hes been left out, and Barnes later testified that Phylicia is shown on the tape playfully grabbing Johnsons penis.
Barnes testified that she later saw Phylicia and Michael Johnson together in her apartments bathroom. From the bedroom, Barnes said, she saw Johnson reach for the girls genitals. She laughed and pushed his hand away, said Barnes, who testified that she was disturbed by the interaction and confronted Johnson about it.
Barnes said she considered calling their father, but worried that he might forbid his daughters to spend time together.
I was scared, she testified. Scared of not being able to see Phylicia anymore. I thought she wouldnt be able to come around anymore.