Attack on UMD student brings attempted murder charge
A 16-year-old boy who allegedly continued to kick and stomp on the head of Dash Johnson after his three accomplices withdrew from the beating has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of the University of Minnesota Duluth student.
Myron Ellis Clark, 16, is also charged with first-degree assault and first-degree aggravated robbery in the May 20 beating of Johnson, 21. A group of young men who had been Rollerblading came across Johnson lying unconscious in the middle of the Lakewalk just before 1 a.m.
Two other juveniles were also charged Monday for their alleged roles in the crime. Julie Ann Isham, 17, and Markus Lee St. Clair, 16, each are charged with first-degree assault and aggravated first-degree robbery. A fourth suspect, a 14-year-old boy, is expected to be charged today. His name is not public information because of his age.
The juveniles are accused of stealing Johnson's wallet and cell phone. Johnson, an Arden Hills, Minn., native, had just finished his junior year at UMD, where he was majoring in communications.
The St. Louis County Attorney's Office has filed motions to try Clark and Isham as adults.
According to the juvenile delinquency petition filed against Clark, he told Duluth police that he, Isham, St. Clair and the 14-year-old were on the Lakewalk when the victim came along. Clark said St. Clair hit the victim three times, knocking him to the ground, and then kicked him several times. Clark admitted that he touched Johnson's wallet and its contents, but he denied knowing who took the wallet from the victim.
The 14-year-old told police that he took part in the robbery and told a different story than Clark. He said Isham asked the victim for a cigarette and St. Clair asked the victim for a lighter. He said St. Clair then hit the victim and that Clark kicked and stomped the victim. The 14-year-old admitted hitting the victim once in the stomach with his fist.
The 14-year-old said that Isham rolled the victim over, went through his pockets and took his phone. He said that Clark took the wallet. He said he started to run away, but looked back and Clark was kicking and stomping on the victim. He said St. Clair was trying to get Clark to stop.
The youngest suspect said that he heard Clark bragging about the incident, saying he was trying to kill Johnson.
The delinquency petitions also indicate that St. Clair admitted his involvement in the beating.
Johnson was placed on a ventilator when he reached the hospital. He had several abrasions and contusions on his face and head, and his eyes were swollen shut. He had sutures placed to repair a cut over his eye. A CT scan indicated that his brain was bleeding. He is recovering in a traumatic brain injury unit at HealthEast Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul. Doctors say it won't be known for nine to 12 months whether he will regain full brain function.
Walfrid David Ashlie "Dash'' Johnson had been working as a host at Little Angie's in Canal Park and as a student intern with Visit Duluth.
Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Angie Shambour told Judge Sally Tarnowski that the juveniles are threats to public safety and asked that they be held without bail pending future court hearings.
Tarnowski granted the request, saying the court had "serious public safety concerns'' about the juveniles.
The juveniles appeared in St. Louis County Court for detention hearings. They will be formally arraigned at later dates. Defense attorney Keith Shaw entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Isham, who is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges when she appears in court on Friday in regard to a first-degree sexual assault in a separate case.
Shambour asked the court to order that the defendants have no contact with each other. Tarnowski granted the request. The court also ordered that psychological and chemical dependency evaluations be conducted on the defendants.