A weekly look at SoCal life covering news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by John Rabe

PHOTOS: South LA mom, activist and 'trial junkie,' attends trial of her daughter's killer

by Ashley Bailey | Off-Ramp®

Linda Jay holds a poster of her 16-year-old daughter, Britany Johnson, outside the L.A. County Criminal Courts Building. Jay and her family and friends recently sat through the murder trial of the man accused of killing Britany. Ashley Bailey/KPCC

Last year, Off-Ramp told you about Linda Jay of South Los Angeles, who’s been fascinated by the justice system ever since her stint as a court clerk in the '80s. Jay made it a point to attend as many high-profile cases as she could. Like the 1992  trial of the LAPD officers charged in beating Rodney King.

 “As soon as we got to the courthouse, we saw reporters run out there, coming to their cars, saying ‘we got a verdict, we got a verdict, the verdict is in, we’ve got a verdict!’ My heart starting pumping, adrenaline rushing and I said ‘I want to be in that courtroom, just to see what was going to go down," Jay said.

Jay could stand back and watch the trials of O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Conrad Murray, but she put her hobby on hold this year because she had to attend a trial that hit very close to home.

Last year, Linda Jay said a trial was coming up that she’d been waiting for: the prosecution of the man accused of murdering her 16-year-old daughter, Britany Johnson.

“She was murdered in 2007 - gang violence," Jay said. "So that’s coming up and that’s going to take a lot of me, but I’m gonna be there.”

If Jay sounded strong last year, that feeling had melted away by April 22 of this year, the first day of the trial.

“This is personal and I don’t feel too good about it," she said. "I’m a little nervous. Apprehensive. Today is just a little rough, not feeling the best, but I’m just trying to keep my spirits up.”

Jay waited outside the Los Angeles County Criminal Courts Building with an entourage. More than a dozen friends and family are wearing purple polka-dot ribbons to support Jay and her daughter, Britany. The past 24 hours have been rough.

 “I went to three different churches just to let people know what I’m going through and they were praying for me," Jay said.

This trial was slated to start last summer, but it got delayed...again and again. 

“I’m just so ready. I’m past ready," said Rose Johnson Brown, Jay's sister. "It’s been like five years and that’s a long time to wait to see justice done. And I just want this guy to see his trial, and let him have his due, and then lock him away.”

The family finally makes it inside the courtroom.  In her celebrity trial days, Jay sat in many courtrooms when the audience was overflowing; sometimes she had to win a lottery to get in. But the benches in this courtroom are mostly empty -- just Jay, her friends and family, and a few police officers.

In court, Jay stands to talk about her daughter, Britany. She says she was beautiful and loving. And a rebel. She was getting good grades in school, but she’d also befriended some gang members  Jay shared a mother’s day card that Britany wrote to her:

 “You always been there through the good and the bad. You even took time to help me when I was down and sad. That’s why I want to thank you ‘cause you didn’t have to do it. I know I hurt you and lost your trust. But I’m so sorry I blew it. From your baby, your shining star. I will always love you no matter where you are.”

Tears started rolling down Jay’s cheeks as she told the story of her daughter’s death.

It was late July, 2007. Sixteen-year-old Britany was hanging out one afternoon with friends - some of whom were gang members - when she was shot outside a donut shop on the corner of Manchester and Normandie in South L.A. Britany died in the hospital the next day.

The prosecutor told the jury witnesses saw two men outside the donut shop with guns the day Britany was shot - a bigger man and a smaller man – but they didn’t see their faces.  That was it for almost exactly four years, until, in July 2011, police got a lucky break.

They brought a  29-year-old named Miller Posey into the LAPD’s 77th Division police station on a gun charge. Detectives knew Posey was a suspect in Britany’s murder, but never questioned him before. First, detectives said Posey denied knowing anything about the shooting. Then, he said he had heard about it , but denied being there.  Then they said he admitted he was present at the time of the shooting and even had a gun. But Posey - who may have been “the bigger man” witnesses saw at the shooting - told detectives “the smaller man” with him was the shooter.

The smaller man was supposedly David Means, who was shot to death in Las Vegas a couple months after Britany.

Police arrested Miller Posey, and two years later, he too is in the courtroom in a charcoal gray suit, his head down, speaking quietly to his attorney.

The prosecution said Posey, a member of the 99 Mafia gang, may have shot Britany in retaliation for a killing by a rival gang.

After 3 days, the case goes to the jury. Linda Jay has been waiting.

 “I just want this man to never be able to walk outside prison again," she said.

After a few hours of deliberations, the jury files back into the courtroom, and tells the judge they’ve reached a unanimous verdict. Miller Posey is guilty of first degree murder in Britany Johnson’s death. Linda gets to face him in court.

 “Look at you, Miller Posey," she said. "Where did this get you? Killing someone and taking a life doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve been waiting for this day for six years to talk to you directly. Now you have to face God now. I’m not wishing that someone kill you. I’m not wishing for the death penalty for you. I always tell my children and the neighborhood children, what goes around comes around and you gonna reap what you sow."

Posey, now 31-years-old, gets 50 years to life in jail.

“It took four years for you to be arrested, but I can sleep at night now," Jay continued. "But I just wonder how you going to be able to sleep at night now that you’re going to be in prison, now that you’re off the street."

Jay turned to the judge.

"I’m so glad that he won’t be able to kill another mother’s child," she said.

A few days later, Jay is laying out tablecloths under a tent in her front yard. She has invited her family and friends to eat a dinner of greens, chicken and pasta to celebrate the end of the trial.

 “I didn’t realize it was such a load off my shoulder," she said. "I didn’t even realize I was going to be this happy. I just feel like it was delayed. Maybe 40 hours later, I just started feeling relief."

Jay said now that Britany has justice, she can rest in peace. There’s a sheet cake on the table with the girl’s picture printed on top. It says “We got justice for Britany.”

Family friend Herman Henderson said he’s glad Linda didn’t give up on getting justice for Britany... but he feels bad at the same time. Not just for their family, but for Miller Posey’s family, too.

“He got 50 years. Man, that’s it.  That itself is a terrible thing," he said. "So justice got to prevail in the case, but you know, both families lose.”

The past six years waiting for justice comes full circle when Linda Jay and her friends join hands to pray before they begin their meal.

Jay said now that she’s found justice for her daughter, she’s ready to observe high-profile trials again. She hopes to make it to Florida this month to watch the trial of George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy Off-Ramp®? Try KPCC’s other programs.

What's popular now on KPCC