Fort Greene

Three men connected through a dating app found themselves in deadly triangle

December 13, 2018 By Christina Carrega Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo of the murder weapon used to kill James Johnson on April 9, 2017. Photo by Curtis Means

 

The intricacies of a Brooklyn murder case came to light on Wednesday as a sexual assault survivor gave shocking testimony in defense for a Pennsylvania man on trial for killing an alleged rapist.

After Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini rested her case in the murder trial against David Keegan Riotto Haigh, his defense attorneys presented the jury with an unexpected witness.

A week before Haigh plunged a long kitchen knife into the heart of James “Koron” Johnson on April 9, 2017, a man from the Bronx, “Mr. Doe,” reported to police that he was viciously raped and kidnapped by Johnson in the same apartment that later turned into a crime scene.

Both Haigh and Doe met Johnson through Jack’d, a chat and dating app for gay men.

The 27-year-old Doe, whose identity is being withheld by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle because of the nature of the crime, testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday that on April 1, 2017, he was hanging out with a friend who introduced him to Johnson.

Johnson, 41, connected with the two men through Jack’d.

“James was nice in the beginning. He was introduced to me as ‘Koron,’” said Doe, who was reluctant to admit that he and Johnson were smoking crystal meth. “He was flirtatious, trying to come on to me.”

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Shortly before midnight, Johnson invited Doe back to his apartment on Fleet Walk in Fort Greene.

The men continued to smoke crystal meth and Johnson called a chat line to invite other men to his apartment for an orgy.

Doe testified that he had consensual sex with Johnson until “it got very ugly.”

“He treated me like shit, verbally abusive,” said Doe. He looked down, shook his head and took a deep breath before testifying about the attack.

“He forced me to have sex with him. He wanted to record it and have people from the chat line over to watch. I didn’t want that. He recorded, and I told him ‘No,’” Doe said.

“Then he said he’ll bring people over for a gang bang, and if I tried to leave, he [said he] would bring people over to try to kill me,” Doe said. “I was scared to leave. I feared for my life and really thought he was going to have people kill me.”

Johnson allegedly kept opening and closing his fourth-floor apartment door, “like someone was coming,” according to Doe.

The following morning Johnson allegedly ripped off Doe’s clothes and forced him to take three showers. “He scrubbed me down with soap and water and made me wear his underwear,” Doe said.

Doe said he was able to escape when by telling Johnson he was going to go to the ATM machine.

“I jetted. I wasn’t going back. I felt violated, I didn’t feel like living anymore. For someone to do something like that is cruel and evil,” said Doe. “James Johnson raped me.”

Immediately after fleeing the apartment — in fact, still wearing Johnson’s underwear — Doe checked himself into the psychiatric ward at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, citing suicidal thoughts. From there, he reported the rape to authorities.

“This wasn’t your first visit in a psychiatric ward is it?” asked prosecutor Rosini on cross-examination.

Rosini, a senior prosecutor in the homicide bureau, took on the role of a sex crime defense attorney, probing the alleged rape victim’s account. Johnson had gone from a murder victim to an accused rapist.

A brief sidebar conference was held outside of the jury’s presence regarding the question.

“No,” said Doe, when the attorneys and judge returned. It was not his first time in a psych ward. Rosini aimed to discredit Doe by exposing his history of mental health issues and drug use, the latter a constant in both men’s dealings with Johnson.

As police were investigating Doe’s sexual assault allegations, Johnson was allegedly setting up his next weekend drug-infused date on Jack’d with Haigh.

The sequence of events Doe related to the court were eerily similar to the statements Haigh gave to police as he spoke to them in the hospital on April 9, 2017.

Haigh, 43, said Johnson made him feel like he was being set up and refused to let him leave the apartment. Haigh, too, told Johnson he was going to go out to the ATM, but Johnson allegedly refused to let him leave, and a fight ensued.

During the brawl, Johnson allegedly beat Haigh with a frying pan as Haigh grabbed four different knives to repeatedly stab and nick Johnson.

Finally, Haigh said, he got on top of Johnson and forced the knife into his chest — an action he claims was in self defense.

Phone records show that Haigh called 911 before the fight and texted a friend “9-1-1.” He stayed on the line with the emergency personnel for 16 minutes after the fatal stab.

David Keegan Riotto Haigh in the hospital after stabbing James Johnson to death inside an apartment on Fleet Walk in Fort Greene on April 9, 2017. Photo courtesy of Thomas H. Andrykovitz
David Keegan Riotto Haigh in the hospital after stabbing James Johnson to death inside an apartment on Fleet Walk in Fort Greene on April 9, 2017. Photo courtesy of Thomas H. Andrykovitz

 

Rosini introduced evidence to the jurors that she claimed proves Haigh intentionally caused the death of Johnson.

Haigh’s attorney Thomas H. Andrykovitz paid $5,000 to renowned forensic pathologist and medical-legal consultant Cyril H. Wecht to give his expert opinion about the evidence.

David Keegan Riotto Haigh (right) with his defense attorneys Thomas H. Andrykovitz (middle left) and Jeffrey E. Goldman (middle), as well as Private Investigator Daniel Costa (front left) in Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Eagle photo by Christina Carrega
David Keegan Riotto Haigh (right) with his defense attorneys Thomas H. Andrykovitz (middle left) and Jeffrey E. Goldman (middle), as well as Private Investigator Daniel Costa (front left) in Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Eagle photo by Christina Carrega

 

Wecht, 87, was deemed an expert in the field by Justice Vincent Del Giudice for the trial. He has performed over 20,000 and reviewed or signed off on over 40,000 autopsies since 1957.

Wecht analyzed the medical examiner’s autopsy report, which showed Johnson sustained 18 stab wounds and 21 lacerations during the attack.

“In my opinion, the wounds to the lungs [and] liver were treatable. Without the heart wound, Mr. Johnson would not have died,” he said.  

Rosini is expected to put on a rebuttal case on Monday. Haigh decided not to testify on his own behalf.

John Doe checked himself into rehab after the attack and has remained sober.

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