A 35th District Court jury sentenced Phillip Michael Johnson to 27 years in prison Friday for his role in the Jan. 14 robbery and shooting of a Lake Brownwood man.
Jurors convicted Johnson, 23, of Brownwood, of aggravated robbery Thursday and began hearing punishment testimony Thursday afternoon.
Johnson took the stand and denied that he had anything to do with the robbery, which authorities said was drug-related. “I knew about it. That’s about it,” Johnson testified.
But according to state’s witnesses, the robbery was Johnson’s idea and on a cold, icy January night, he and Stephonze Rae Balfour and Kris Balfour, 19-year-old cousins, drove to the Shamrock Shores mobile home where Eddie Jowers and Andrew Pruitt lived.
Johnson stayed outside as a lookout and the Balfour cousins, who had guns, forced their way into the mobile home, testimony showed. Rae Balfour had taken a pistol from Johnson because he feared Johnson would kill the men they robbed, according to testimony.
After the Balfour cousins got inside the mobile home, there was a struggle and Andrew Pruitt was shot in the upper thigh.
After the robbery, Johnson expressed regret that they hadn’t killed the men they robbed so there wouldn’t be any living witnesses, according to testimony.
Kris Balfour and Rae Balfour pleaded guilty earlier and were sentenced to 12 and 15 years respectively.
Defense attorney John Lee Blagg sought to convince jurors that testimony elicited by prosecutor Sam Moss, which put Johnson at the scene of the crime, was unreliable.
As jurors deliberated Friday afternoon, they sent a note to District Judge Steve Ellis asking if Moss’ recommendation of a sentence of 30 to 50 years was reasonable.
“What’s that mean?” Johnson asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Ellis replied. He said he could not comment on Moss’ recommendation and sent a note back to jurors saying he was not permitted by law to answer their question.
Johnson faced a sentencing range of 5 to 99 years or life in prison.