Fort Greene

‘Reasonable’ Jack’d date stabber sentenced to 12 years

January 10, 2019 Christina Carrega Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The family of a Fort Greene man, who was viciously stabbed to death during a brawl with a Philadelphia man he met through a dating app, are “stuck in a matrix” because of their loss.

“My heart breaks not to be a recipient of my baby brother’s bear hugs,” wrote Debbie Johnson, the oldest sister of James “Koron” Johnson Jr., in a victim impact statement read by Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini in court on Thursday.

James Johnson Jr. was killed inside his Fleet Walk apartment on April 9, 2017 by David Keegan Riotto Haigh. A Brooklyn jury rejected Haigh’s self-defense claim during the two-week long trial last month. The jurors instead acquitted Haigh of murder, but convicted him with first-degree manslaughter charges.

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“Manslaughter is a fitting term for what you did. You slaughtered James,” read Rosini on behalf of another sister Loretta Johnson Monroe. “You showed him no mercy when you put a knife to his heart and a knife to ours.”

James Johnson Jr.’s sisters revealed in their written statements to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice that their family is “stuck in a matrix of hurt and loss” because their little brother died the same as their father 35 years ago. The person responsible for their father’s death remains unknown, the family said.

“Here, we have a convicted killer whose actions annihilated our family … It was inaccurate how my brother was portrayed during this trial all because David Haigh didn’t own up to his actions,” wrote Debbie Johnson.  

“He was not a sexual deviant who deserved to die, and you know that, David,” wrote Loretta Johnson Monroe.

The family asked Justice Vincent Del Giudice for the maximum sentence of 25 years. Rosini recommended 20 years and Haigh’s attorney Thomas H. Andrykovitz requested the minimum of five years.  

“The defendant and the decedent intended to enjoy each other’s company that weekend, it didn’t work out that way,” said Justice Del Giudice before rendering a 12-year sentence followed by five years of post-release supervision.

James Johnson Jr., 41, and Haigh, 43, connected on Jack’d, a dating app for gay men, and organized meeting each other in person in Manhattan days before the bloodshed. The pair went back to James Johnson Jr.’s apartment and after a drug- and sex-infused 48 hours, Haigh became paranoid that he was being set up.

“Most people cannot imagine choosing between life and death, I was faced with it,” said Haigh as he read from his statement while failing to fight back tears. “What reasonable person in fear of their life wouldn’t do what I did?”

An hour before the fight ensued, Haigh called 911 and sent repeated text messages to a friend asking for help, according to trial testimony. Johnson Jr. allegedly stopped Haigh from leaving the fourth-floor pad when the pair came to blows — grabbing anything within reach to assault each other, including four knives and a frying pan.

“Every day, I think about how I had to take a knife and stab. I live with this every day, every day I recite his name, James Koron Johnson,” said Haigh before taking a break in the holding cell in order to compose himself.

After over two dozen cuts, Haigh got on top of Johnson Jr. and plunged a kitchen knife into the beloved brother, uncle and cousin’s heart.

“My intent was not to take his life, my intent was to save mine … I’ll live with this for the rest of my life,” said Haigh through tears.

Andrykovitz filed a motion to appeal Haigh’s conviction that Justice Del Giudice elaborated is “his right.”

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