Category Archives: Media Releases

JOHN FITZGERALD JOHNSON aka “Grand Master Jay” INDICTED ON WANTON ENDANGERMENT CHARGES

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OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY

Media Release: October 20, 2021

Attention: Assignment Editor
Acting Director of Communications: Erwin Roberts
Office: (502) 595-2300
E-mail: eroberts@louisvilleprosecutor.com

JOHN FITZGERALD JOHNSON aka “Grand Master Jay”
INDICTED ON WANTON ENDANGERMENT CHARGES
COMMONWEALTH VS. JOHN FITZGERALD JOHNSON
JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT CASE NO. 21CR2295

The Jefferson County Grand Jury returned an indictment against John Fitzgerald Johnson aka “Grand Master Jay” charging him with five counts of Wanton Endangerment First Degree in connection with his pointing his assault rifle at five law enforcement officers on September 4, 2020. This indictment includes charges for FOUR additional victims, who are local law enforcement officers and therefore were not victims included in Johnson’s federal indictment for conduct involving ONE federal law enforcement officers. Johnson faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison.

The case has been assigned to Division 2 of Jefferson Circuit Court. Johnson will be formally arraigned on Monday, October 25, 2021, at 9:00. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Porter is the prosecutor. The indicted charges are allegations and Johnson is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Note: This article has been revised since its original release.

Guilty verdicts in 2019 Seneca golf course crash

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OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY

Media Release: July 2, 2021

Attention: Assignment Editor
Director of Communications: Jeff Cooke
Office: (502) 595-2300 Ext. 3027
Cell / Text: (502) 262-5809
E-mail: jcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

Today a Jefferson County jury brought some measure of justice to the family of Mr. Christopher Schulz, who was killed on August 11, 2019 by a drunk driver, Lazaro Osmany Pozo Illas, and to Mr. Brian Hovekamp, who was severely injured in the same collision. Defendant Illas was driving at twice the legal speed limit with a blood alcohol level at twice the level of presumed intoxication when his automobile smashed into the golf cart occupied by Mr. Schulz and Mr. Hovekamp as the cart was in a cross walk. Schulz and Hovekamp were life-long friends who were enjoying a round of golf at the Seneca Golf Course at the time of the collision.

Following the verdict Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine stated:

Prosecutors Justin Janes and Corey Taylor, along with lead officer Mark Batson of the Louisville Metro Police Department, worked diligently for almost two years to prepare this case. The tragic death of Mr. Schulz, and the serious injuries to Mr. Hovekamp, could have been avoided had Illas simply driven the speed limit and not consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. It is especially disturbing that this terrible, avoidable tragedy occurred in a heavily traveled area used by golfers, bicyclists, walkers and other motorists.

The jury verdict of guilt and recommended sentence of 30 years (*see below for breakdown of sentences) on the charges of Murder, Assault in the First Degree, Wanton Endangerment in the First Degree, Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Operating a Motor Vehicle without and Operator’s License should be a reminder to all persons who drink and drive that these motor vehicle fatalities and injuries will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted, and the community, through the jury system, will impose serious sanctions.

As we prepare to the 4th of July festivities, we are reminded to drink responsibly and respect the speed limits on all roadways.

  • Murder – 20 years
  • Assault 1st – 10 years both sentences to consecutive with each other for a total of 30 years. Concurrent with the following sentences:
  • Wanton Endangerment 1 (2 counts) 1 year each count
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicants – 30 days
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle with No Operator’s License – 90 days

Criminal trials resuming in Jefferson Circuit Court

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OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY

Media Release: June 4, 2021

Attention: Assignment Editor
Director of Communications: Jeff Cooke
Office: (502) 595-2300 Ext. 3027
Cell / Text: (502) 262-5809
E-mail: jcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

As a result of declining COVD-19 infection rates statewide the Kentucky Supreme Court has allowed Kentucky courts to resume jury trials.  The Jefferson Circuit Courts and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney have wasted no time in getting back to the people’s business.

Besides the trial of William K. Riggle, Sr. and William K. Riggle, Jr. in Division 11 of Jefferson Circuit Court which concluded yesterday with a jury recommending 75 and 150 year sentences, respectively, for a series of sexual assaults of minor female relatives, two other criminal cases were tried and concluded last week.

***

On Thursday May 27, 2021 a jury in Division 9 of Jefferson Circuit Court found Juan Chairez guilty of one count of Sodomy in the First Degree (a Class A felony) and four counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree (Class C felonies). Following the verdict Chairez agreed to a penalty of twenty-five years in prison.

Chairez (DOB 7/20/73) had been charged with raping, sodomizing and sexually abusing his 10-year-old daughter (J.C.). In the winter of 2013, the defendant got into his bed where J.C. was sleeping.  He then proceeded to fondle her breasts, touch her vagina with his fingers, insert his fingers into her vagina, perform oral sex on her and penetrate her with his penis.  According to the defendant, who testified at trial, he was extremely drunk that night and mistakenly thought his young daughter was his girlfriend.  Defendant further claimed that all he did was kiss his daughter on the stomach before realizing it was her and telling her to leave.  Then in October 2013, defendant again got into bed with J.C. and touched her vagina with his fingers.  J.C. immediately got out of bed and slept on the couch.  The victim in this case did not disclose what had happened to her at the hands of her father until May 2014.  Aside from her disclosure at age 11, there was not any physical, medical or forensic evidence in this case to corroborate the events that transpired.  

Chairez’ formal sentencing is scheduled for July 29, 2021 at 9:15 a.m.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Marit DeLozier and Shannon Tubbs were the prosecutors.

***

In another trail concluding on Thursday May 27, 2021, a jury in Division 3 of Jefferson Circuit Court found Byron Shea Seymour guilty of Rape in the First Degree.  During the penalty phase of the trial the jury found that Seymour was a Persistent Felony offender in the Second Degree, recommended a ten year sentence on the rape charge and enhanced the penalty to twenty years as a result of finding him a persistent felon.

Seymour (DOB 11/11/1978) had been charged with the rape of a 52-year-old female (T.J.).  On January 18, 2019, the defendant armed himself with a kitchen knife while inside of T.J.’s home, threatened to stab her multiple times, and forced sexual intercourse on her. T.J. was able to escape after her daughter burst into the room and confronted the defendant as the offense was occurring. T.J. ran out of her apartment building while naked from the waist down and yelled for help, causing multiple witnesses to contact 911. The defendant fled the apartment through the back door, but was arrested the following day by Detectives Lisa Livers and Lindsay Lynch of LMPD’s Special Victims Unit. During a Mirandized police interview, the defendant denied sexual intercourse with T.J..  In addition to victim and witness statements, the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam and DNA evidence confirmed that forcible sexual intercourse occurred.

Seymour’s formal sentencing is scheduled for July 20, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Milja Zgonjanin and Corey Taylor were the prosecutors.

Father and son convicted of sexual assaults on three minor female relatives left in their care

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OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY

Media Release: June 3, 2021

Attention: Assignment Editor
Director of Communications: Jeff Cooke
Office: (502) 595-2300 Ext. 3027
Cell / Text: (502) 262-5809
E-mail: jcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

In a criminal trial concluded today in Division 11 of Jefferson Circuit Court a jury recommended that William K. Riggle, Sr. serve 75 years in prison and his son, William K. Riggle, Jr., serve 150 years in prison for a series of sexual assaults against three minor females who had been in their care. Yesterday, the jury convicted Riggle, Sr. on three counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, eight counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and three counts of Intimidating a Participant in the Legal Process and Riggle, Jr. of five counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, one count of Rape in the First Degree, seven counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, one count of Intimidating a Participant in the Legal Process and one count of Use of a Minor in a Sexual Performance.

The minor females were nieces of Riggle, Sr. and cousins of Riggle, Jr. and had lived in the home of Riggle, Sr. between 2009 and 2017. Once the children were returned to the custody of their mother in 2017 they began disclosing to her the sexual and physical abuse they experienced at the hands of the two Riggles. Their mother took children to Norton’s Children Hospital for examinations for sexual abuse and later to the Family and Children’s Place for forensic interviews. In their interviews the children graphically detailed a variety of sexual acts which they were forced to perform by the Riggles. At least one of the sexual acts was recorded by Riggle, Jr.

Formal sentencing for both Riggles is scheduled for August 9, 2021 at 9:15 a.m.

The case was investigated by Detective Stacey Roby in the LMPD Crimes Against Children Unit.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Danielle Yannelli and Chris Foster were the prosecutors.

A statement from Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine regarding the review of the investigation into the death of David McAtee

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OFFICE OF THE COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
30th JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
THOMAS B. WINE, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY

Media Release: May 25, 2021

Attention: Assignment Editor
Director of Communications: Jeff Cooke
Office: (502) 595-2300 Ext. 3027
Cell / Text: (502) 262-5809
E-mail: jcooke@louisvilleprosecutor.com

Following the death of David McAtee on June 1, 2020, the Kentucky State Police Critical Incident Response Team and the Louisville Metro Police Department Public Integrity Unit, conducted an exhaustive collaborative investigation. Their preliminary report was provided to the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney on August 10, 2020. Additional reports and information were provided to our office over the next few months.   I commend the thoroughness and promptness of the Kentucky State Police, the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in compiling this information and preparing these reports.

I will begin by offering my condolences to the McAtee family. By all accounts David McAtee was well liked by the community, his patrons, and members of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Prior to the release of this statement, I informed the attorney for the McAtee family of the results of this review.

On Saturday, May 30, 2020, following two days where our city experienced both constitutionally protected protests and criminal destruction of property and other unlawful conduct, Mayor Greg Fischer issued Executive Order 2020-006 decreeing a curfew for Louisville Metro from 9:00 pm on May 30, 2020 until 6:30 am on June 1, 2020. On the same day, Governor Andy Beshear also activated the Kentucky National Guard pursuant to Executive Orders 2019-459 and 2019-462, ordering units of the Kentucky National Guard into Jefferson County. 

Around midnight of May 31/ June 1, LMPD command staff directed a contingent of LMPD officers and Kentucky National Guard soldiers to the intersection of 26th and Broadway. Their primary goal was to clear a crowd from the parking lot at Dino’s Food Market.  After the officers and soldiers arrived, they began clearing the parking lot and the surrounding streets. Most civilians in the crowd were compliant and began to exit the area, either by walking away or driving off in their personal vehicles. There was no evidence that the crowd was engaged in any type of protest or destructive behavior.

Some members of the crowd began to walk over to YaYa’s BBQ at 677 26th Street, an eating establishment operated by Mr. David McAtee.  The business was still open and McAtee was moving between the premises’ outdoor grilling area and the interior of the building.

McAtee was aware of the 9 PM curfew.  Lt. Aaron Crowell, LMPD, spoke with McAtee and the management of Dino’s, the night before, to confirm that they knew the curfew was in effect.  They were advised they would be in violation of the curfew if they were serving people after 9 PM.

Following her arrival on the scene LMPD Officer Katie Crews (Crews) fired at least one pepper ball into the street outside Dino’s to disperse the crowd. Crews then proceeded to fire several more pepper ball shots toward YaYa’s where Machelle McAtee was standing under a blue canopy near the side door to the building.   As a result Ms. McAtee and others sought shelter inside the building.  

In a recorded statement to investigators Marvin McAtee, David McAtee’s nephew, stated that he told his uncle that marshals, or “whoever” were outside.

Nevertheless, following the hurried entry of Ms. McAtee and others into YaYa’s through the side door, Mr. McAtee pointed a gun out that door and fired one shot.  He then stepped back inside before reemerging to fire a second shot.   Surveillance video from inside YaYa’s captured these events.

In response to McAtee’s shots, LMPD officers and National Guard soldiers moved for cover. Some described having seen an arm appear, a muzzle flash, and after a short pause, an arm appear again, and another muzzle flash.  After McAtee’s first shot, members of LMPD switched from non-lethal weapons such as pepper ball guns to service weapons and the National Guard soldiers armed their M-4 rifles. After McAtee’s second shot, Crews, LMPD officer Austin Allen, National Guard soldiers Andrew Kroszkewicz and Staff Sergeant Matthew Roark all returned fire.   Allen fired once, Crews fired eight times, Kroszkewicz fired four times and Roark fired six times. No other member of the National Guard or LMPD fired their service weapons.

Neither of the LMPD officers had activated their body cameras and the National Guard soldiers were not equipped with body cameras.

In the return fire Mr. McAtee was struck one time in the chest. 

Persons inside the building attempted to render first aid to Mr. McAtee.  Paramedics arrived within approximately 5 minutes of the shooting, but found that McAtee was already deceased.

Several officers and soldiers believed that someone was setting off firecrackers near the area of YaYa’s BBQ. Marvin McAtee, in his 911 call, reported that someone had set off firecrackers. This seemingly harmless prank heightened the sense of threat. Additionally, officers and soldiers reported hearing gunfire from several locations in the immediate area.

As described consistently, Mr. McAtee fired twice. The Jimenez Arms 9mm handgun found near his body had his DNA on it. The magazine found on his person contained ammunition that matched that used by the Jimenez Arms 9mm. And the two spent shell casings found immediately outside the door were determined to have been fired by that same Jimenez Arms 9mm. Finally, Machelle McAtee stated that the Jimenez Arms 9mm she saw on the floor next to his body, was similar to the one she had seen him possess previously.

Mr. McAtee’s autopsy report revealed that he died from a single gunshot wound to the left chest, upper sternal, involving the left lung and aortic arch.  His ribs, clavicles, and manubrium had been fractured.  An accompanying toxicology report showed Mr. McAtee had not ingested any drugs or alcohol.

Four fragments of a projectile were recovered from the body of Mr. McAtee. The KSP crime lab determined only two fragments displayed marks of value indicating they could have been fired from either of the Kentucky National Guard’s Colt rifles. Green paint found on one of these fragments was similar to the green paint on the cartridges used by the Kentucky National Guard.   However, the fragments were too damaged to be identified with a specific weapon.  It was definitively found that these two fragments had not been fired from the weapons used by the LMPD officers.

The LMPD officers In conformance with LMPD Standard Operating Procedure Number 9.1.13 and the Kentucky National Guard soldiers by virtue of the National Guard’s use of force policy were authorized to discharge their firearms in defense of human life, including their own, when they reasonably believed, based on the facts and circumstances, that Mr. McAtee posed an immediate threat of death or serious injury to them or to another person. The actions of the LMPD officers and Kentucky National Guard soldiers were further justified by KRS 503.040 to use physical force, and KRS 503.050 (2) and KRS 503.070 (2) to use deadly physical force in response to the deadly physical force used by Mr. McAtee against them.

I provided a twenty-four page review to the investigating agencies detailing our office’s factual findings, legal analysis, and the conclusion that that this investigation will not be presented to a Jefferson County Grand Jury for further review or potential charges against any of the LMPD officers or National Guard soldiers who fired their weapons. Because there is an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this matter at this time.