Trial for slain Wildlife Conservation Officer continues - abc27 WHTM

Adams County

Trial for slain Wildlife Conservation Officer continues

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Tuesday made for another emotional day inside the Adams County Court House as the trial for the murder of Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove continued.

Prosecutors rolled out a life-sized mannequin dressed in Officer Grove's green Game Commission uniform.  The pants, boots, and gun belt were worn by Grove the night he was killed in the line of duty in November of 2010.   The jacket shown to the jury was a replica.  Prosecutors said the original was too blood stained to show.

Prosecutors called several witnesses to testify about evidence related to the autopsy and evidence related to what they found at Christopher Johnson's cabin, including a shooting target.

Prosecutors showed the target to the jury.  Numerous bullet holes were throughout the target, several grouped around the upper torso and neck.

Prosecutors say Christopher Johnson fired the fatal shot to the back of Grove's neck.

Then several witnesses, mostly State Police Troopers, were called to testify about the scene nearly 12 hours following the shooting in which Christopher Johnson was arrested.

Johnson was shot during the shooting in the hip, and police went with him in the ambulance to York Trauma after they arrested him.  Along the way, they recorded his recollection of what happened.

That audio tape was played in court for the jury to hear.

In the recording, Johnson can be heard explaining to a State Police investigator what he was doing right before he said he pulled the trigger.

Johnson said, Officer Grove had asked him to get out of the truck.  "Then he asked me to step away from the truck, my back to him, and put my hands on my head, and I got to thinking, I didn't want to go back to jail."

Eventually, Johnson told the investigator he regretted what he did, saying he would apologize to Grove if given the opportunity.

"I'd probably shake his hand if he'd allow me and let him know that he did everything by the book.  I feel really terrible about it," Johnson said.

Johnson is charged with shooting Officer Grove on November 11, 2010.  Prosecutors said he shot Grove following a traffic stop in which Grove pulled Johnson over for suspected deer poaching. 

Johnson had been a convicted felon at the time, and was not legally allowed to possess firearms.   Prosecutors say Johnson deliberately killed Grove to avoid going back to jail.

Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner has said if Johnson is convicted, he will pursue the death penalty.

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