From the Indianapolis Star on the death of Nireah Johnson and the sentencing of her killers:
Two Indianapolis men declared their innocence today even as a judge sentenced them to prison for killing a cross-dressing teen and his female friend.
Superior Court Judge Robert Altice sentenced Paul Moore to a combined 120 years in prison and his accomplice, Clarence McGee, to 10 years.
Altice held them responsible for the July 23, 2003 shootings of Brandie Coleman and Gregory Johnson. Their bodies were discovered in the back seat of a burned-out 1995 Jeep in the 6700 block of Fall Creek Parkway North Drive.
Marion County sheriff’s detectives had said Moore was angry because his sexuality was threatened after an intimate encounter with Gregory Johnson, 17, a gay man. Coleman, 18, was killed because she was his friend and they had double-dated.
Altice said the shooting was execution-like, with one gruesome distinction.
“They were shot in the front of the head, so both victims were able to observe their last fleeting moments as Mr. Paul Moore pulled the trigger,” Altice said. “The fact that (Johnson) was killed because he was different was the only reason.”
Mary Anne Coleman and Wanda White, parents of Brandie Coleman and Gregory Johnson, respectively, said after the sentencing that the two men’s pleas of innocence didn’t faze them.
“I feel justice was done, and they got the right people,” White said.
“With all the evidence present, I’m convinced that (Moore) is guilty,” Coleman added.
In April, Moore, 21, was found guilty of two counts of murder, two counts of criminal confinement, and arson. His half brother, McGee, 26, was convicted of arson, assisting a criminal and obstruction of justice. Defense attorneys blamed a third man for the killing. Prosecutors maintain they got the right men.
“They know what they did. Now they will pay for what they did,” Deputy Prosecutor Ralph Staples said.