ST. CLOUD — A Stearns County Court moved forward Friday with preparations for a jury trial for a man charged in connection with a fatal stabbing at the Red Carpet.
Christopher Lamar Johnson, 28, of St. Cloud, appeared in court remotely Friday afternoon as the court addressed exhibits, testimony and procedure for the upcoming trial.
Johnson is charged with one felony count of second-degree murder, with intent but not premeditated, and one felony count of second-degree murder without intent while committing a felony, according to court records. Each count is listed with an additional statute for liability of crimes of another.
More:2 more charged with murder in Sunday Red Carpet stabbing
Several witnesses were called to speak about the foundation for exhibits containing video surveillance, including an officer with the St. Cloud Police Department and an investigator from the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office who assisted with the investigation.
Judge Matthew Engelking said in court that the purpose for the hearing was to help minimize delays during the trial in light of COVID-19.
Jury questionnaires were previously submitted to streamline the jury selection process prior to the trial start.
Engelking also dismissed a motion from Christopher Johnson’s lawyer, Joseph Vaccaro, to release him on conditions and dismiss charges based on not holding a trial within the speedy demand period.
Engelking said the Minnesota Supreme Court had extended the time period in which trials cannot be held because of the pandemic.
Christopher Johnson’s trial will begin Feb. 22, before the March date set by the Minnesota Supreme Court dictating when jury trials can resume, under an exception.
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Christopher Johnson, his brother, Lawrence Michael Johnson, and Bryant Jerome Stephenson, all from St. Cloud, were charged in connection with the death of 29-year-old Unity McGill.
According to criminal complaints against them, on Dec. 29, 2019, surveillance video shows the three attacking McGill at the Red Carpet Nightclub.
Around 1:03 a.m., video showed the three suspects attacking an unidentified man on the dance floor, and at one point striking McGill who was standing nearby.
The video shows McGill retaliated multiple times. Bouncers removed all three suspects and the other man while McGill remained on the dance floor.
The men re-entered the bar shortly after, according to surveillance video, and approached McGill on the dance floor and attacked him.
McGill died from stab wounds in the attack after being transported to St. Cloud Hospital.
Following a jury trial in October, Lawrence Johnson was found guilty of one felony count of second-degree murder with intent, without premeditation, and one felony count of second-degree, unintentional murder while committing a felony.
The jury also found Lawrence Johnson guilty of two counts of fifth-degree assault and found there was an aggravated factor on each murder count of acting in a group of three or more.
More:Jury finds man guilty of murder in Red Carpet stabbing
Lawrence Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced March 17. Stephenson is next scheduled to appear in court Monday for a settlement conference, according to court records.
Christopher Lamar Johnson’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 22.