Baker shooting victim's mother challenges grand jury's decision

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - A mother fighting to put away her son's alleged killer claims the legal system failed her after a grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to officially charge the suspect in her son's death.

Elizabeth Phillips is surrounded by a strong support system. Last May, her son, Richard Phillips, 20, was killed in the parking lot of a store on Baker Boulevard. Investigators with the Baker Police Department said it started over a fight about a birthday party flyer. Detectives said surveillance video shows Phillips was not armed. MacArthur Johnson was charged with second-degree murder. When he was arrested, he told 9News he was innocent.

After six hours of testimony, an East Baton Rouge grand jury pretermitted the case, meaning jurors couldn't decide whether to indict him. Phillips said she was heartbroken.

"I thought this young man would have gotten indicted for these charges and it's like another slap in the face for me," Phillips said.

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Phillips added she cannot understand why the grand jury chose not to charge Johnson when her son had no gun when he was shot and killed. Phillips is still grieving, but she said this latest news makes the process even harder.

"This is an open wound really and I don't think it's going to heal no time soon. Here is my son, dead and gone, and this young man is living his life," Phillips explained.

While 19th Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore cannot discuss the testimony given to the grand jury, he said all of the evidence was presented.

"It's really frustrating when you have a case and someone's child dead, was killed," Moore said. "Whether a claim of self-defense or not, you always try to find some answer or some reason to give closure to families. Unfortunately, often times when the grand jury finds no true bill and pretermits, it's more in never land and makes it difficult."

A grand jury's decision is final. It cannot be appealed. However, the case could be revisited if new evidence is found. Phillips said she is not giving up.

"I really think it was an injustice," Phillips said.

If you have any evidence or information that could help in this case, call Crime Stoppers at 344-7867.

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