Murder Suspects in Court

By: Amy Kehm
By: Amy Kehm

According to authorities, drugs, a fight, and a stabbing has resulted in murder charges. Sheriff says that methamphetamine played a major role.

Franklin W. Riley and Donald S Johnson, both of Verona, are each charged with first degree murder for the stabbing death of James W. Sword. The two suspects made their first court appearance on Tuesday. The District Court judge told the men to retain attorneys.

Investigators believe both played a role in Sword's death. They say Riley was friends with Sword. Johnson had just met him. But something changed. Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher says it likely has a lot to do with a potent mixture of drugs and booze.

The Sheriff says all three were riding in car on Friday night drinking and doing various drugs. That is when an argument apparently broke out. Johnson allegedly stabbed Sword repeatedly, then left his body on Berry Farm Road. It was discovered on Saturday morning.

Sheriff Fisher highlights the dangers of methamphetamine, saying, "It's killing our society. Meth is just devastating. So many people are addicted to it, using it, breaking in stealing, just anything they can do to buy this drug."

Fisher notes that while murder may seem to be an extreme example, people simply do not think rationally when intoxicated.

"Whether it be on alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, whatever. But when you combine all three, as in this case, where they was alcohol involved, marijuana and methamphetamine, there's just no rhyme or reason why someone does what they do," says Fisher.

We have also learned a bit more about suspect Donald Johnson's background. He has been in and out of the local courts, most significantly in Rockingham County. The Sheriff's office, there, says Johnson's past includes drugs, firearms and even accessory to robbery charges

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