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August 26, 2014
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Claire Haynes (334) 242-7351
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AG Announces That Court of Criminal Appeals Upholds
Shelby County Murder Conviction

(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Luther Strange announced that the
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday upheld the murder conviction of James
Darrell Johnson. Johnson, 60, of Montgomery, was convicted in the Shelby County
Circuit Court in March of 2013 for the murder of Mike Vaughn.

Evidence presented at trial stated that in July 2008, Johnson was employed as a
heavy machinery operator by a construction company. On July 28, 2008, Johnson quit
his job. Johnson arrived at the project site the next morning irate and claimed that
Vaughn, his foreman, owed him money for per diem. When Vaughn arrived at the
project site, Johnson approached him and demanded the money he believed Vaughn
owed to him. Vaughn, who at that time was engaged with clients, was dismissive of
Johnson and his demands. Johnson grabbed Vaughn, lifted him above his head, and
slammed him to the ground. Johnson repeated the maneuver multiple times before
tossing Vaughn aside. Johnson told Vaughn that he told him not to mess with him and
that he was going to get him. James Massengil, the owner of the construction company,
took Vaughn to the Brookwood Hospital emergency room. The attack resulted in at
least 17 fractures of Vaughn’s ribs, which eventually lead to the collapse of both of his
lungs, an infection, and ultimately his death. Vaughn died in the hospital over a month

The case was prosecuted at trial by Shelby County District Attorney Robert
Owens’ office. Johnson was sentenced to 45 years in prison and subsequently sought to
have his conviction reversed on appeal.

The Attorney General’s Appeals Division handled the case during the appeals
process, arguing for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to affirm the conviction.
The Court did so in a decision issued on Friday, August 22.

Attorney General Strange commended Assistant Attorney General Marc Starrett
of the Attorney General’s Appeals Division for his successful work in this case.

501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300