WILMINGTON — Hours before jury selection was set to begin for a first-degree murder trial on Monday, Zibree Brawley-Washington pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, receiving a sentence of eight to ten years.
Brawley-Washington, now 21, was set to face trial for the shooting death of Johnny Lee Johnson. The shooting took place over three years ago; at the time, Brawley-Washington had just turned 18 and Johnson was 45.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Brawley-Washington was dropped off near his father’s house on North 13th Street near New Hanover High School on September 20, 2016 and was seen riding on a bicycle. Johnson’s house was nearby. Brawley-Washington was seen speaking with Johnson and witnesses later reported hearing a gunshot and seeing a black male matching Brawley-Washington’s description fleeing on a bicycle.
Johnson suffered a gunshot wound to the back of the head. According to a Wilmington Police Department spokesperson at the time, Johnson had been “shot and left for dead on his front porch.” Johnson’s body was found by his father.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, “Surveillance cameras at New Hanover High School recorded images that prosecutors would have argued showed Brawley-Washington riding up and down the street [on a bicycle] before and after the murder. While not admissible in court, an anonymous tipster provided information that Brawley-Washington
had committed the murder and that a local female gang leader, Angelina Garcia, had put him up to it. The tip also led investigators to the location of the bike that was believed to have been ridden by Brawley-Washington.”
Garcia is now serving a 20-year sentence in Georgia for an unrelated incident; she was convicted of arranging an attempted gang-related murder outside of Atlanta.
Brawley-Washington fled the Wilmington area after the shooting. According to the DA’s Office, he attended school the day after the killing, telling at least one of his classmates he had “messed up” and intended to leave the area. U.S. Marshals Service captured him two weeks later in Philadelphia, on Oct. 4, 2016. According to the Marshals, Brawley-Washington refused to provide his name or age when he was apprehended.
According to court and law enforcement records, Brawley-Washington is still being held in detention awaiting a court date next week stemming from a 2018 assault charge.