Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2014

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Casino robber takes stand to try to protect his brother

Convicted casino robber Reginald Johnson told jurors Thursday that his younger brother was not the man who helped him rob Treasure Island in July 2000.

Johnson, 28, testified that he told various people his younger brother Donnell Johnson helped in the robbery because he didn't want his true accomplice to get into trouble.

A man he met in a Tennessee prison, Jeffrey "Jeffy" Davis, helped him pull off the July robbery, the older brother said.

Thursday was the third day of Donnell Johnson's trial on robbery charges in connection with the Treasure Island holdup. The 27-year-old, who is representing himself, called his brother as his sole witness.

Closing arguments were scheduled for this morning.

Reginald Johnson is serving 130 years for robbing Treasure Island on three occasions in 2000 -- July 12, Oct. 30 and Dec. 12. He is also serving two no-parole life terms for throwing a fellow inmate at the Clark County Detention Center over a balcony, almost killing him.

Deputy District Attorney Phil Brown, who prosecuted Reginald Johnson, has alleged that Donnell Johnson aided his brother in the July 12, 2000, robbery. Donnell Johnson is being tried on those charges.

Reginald Johnson testified that he told authorities Donnell helped him because Davis had committed only the one robbery while he and Donnell were already wanted in 14 states on multiple robbery charges.

"Instead of implementing (sic) Jeffy, I implemented (sic) you," Reginald told his brother under questioning. "I just didn't want to give up Jeffy is what it boiled down to. You and I were already stuck."

Despite the fact the July 2000 robbery of Treasure Island mirrored a 1997 Treasure Island robbery that Donnell Johnson has admitted committing, Reginald Johnson said it was coincidence.

He and his brother never discussed the 1997 robbery, Reginald Johnson said.

Brown, however, pointed out that Reginald Johnson told authorities he struck the clerk in the July 2000 robbery because Donnell told him he was the same "smart-ass" clerk as the one in 1997.

Reginald Johnson could not explain how he knew it was the same clerk if Donnell wasn't involved in the July 2000 robbery.

Reginald Johnson's demeanor, for the most part, was vastly different from the last time he appeared before District Judge John McGroarty.

During his sentencing hearing last March, Reginald Johnson made sexually explicit suggestions to Brown, threw a court file across a desk and laughed while watching himself shoot a security guard on videotape. He had threatened Brown's life during an earlier hearing.

Reginald Johnson remained calm throughout Thursday's trial and was soft-spoken for the most part. He was flanked by two Nevada Department of Prison guards during the hearing, and four corrections officers and one bailiff were stationed in the audience.

When shown a videotape of the July 2000 robbery, Reginald Johnson commented only on his "cat-like agility" when vaulting the casino cage. His animosity toward Brown became evident on only a few occasions.

When Brown asked Reginald if he remembered telling McGroarty during his plea hearing that Donnell was involved in the July 2000 robbery, Reginald said yes.

The brothers had a few friendly exchanges, with Donnell frequently interrupting Reginald when he thought Reginald was giving too much information about unrelated crimes.

As Reginald walked out of the courtroom, Donnell called out "Love you, Reg."

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