Murder trial underway

First Byline: 
Susan C. Delk - Managing Editor

Some of the details of the night of Aug. 24 and the early morning hours of Aug. 25, 2012 are a bit hazy. Not because it has been almost two years, but because no one really wanted to get involved.
The two facts of the murder trial being presented during this term of General Session court in Barnwell are that Nathan Johnson lost his life in the early morning hours of Aug. 25, 2012 and three days later, Aug. 28, Roland Cromwell Jr. was arrested for his murder.
The first witness took the stand just before 5 p.m. Monday in the trial.
Witness Joseph Holman has admitted he lied to police several times during the investigation including his initial call to 911.
Holman said he called for help when he realized Johnson was not just "beat up" but was having difficulty breathing.
Someone moved Johnson from the road to the yard of Holman before police arrived.
Holman said he told dispatchers at the time of the incident that Johnson had been hit by a car.
Holman repeated a similar story to police until after he found out Johnson had died.
According to opening statements, the men were all attendees of a "large party" or gathering of people being held between several homes in Ramblewood trailer park on the evening of Aug. 24. The gathering didn't break up until the early morning hours of Aug. 25 after Johnson's body was discovered lying in the street, beaten.
Defense attorney Lauren Williams said, police estimated between 50 and 100 people were in attendance but little information was documented. "What happened in Ramblewood, stayed in Ramblewood," she said.
Police Sgt. Calvin Coach testified on Tuesday saying when the call first came in, no specific place was given so they began searching in the median of the four lane highway for someone who had been hit by a car.
Once out of their cars, the police were motioned into Ramblewood to where Johnson had been moved.
He said their first priority was to get the victim help.
Even after the victim was taken away by emergency medical services, he said they did not tape off or secure a crime scene or any portion of it.
The victim's wife, Rachel Johnson, also testified.
She and her husband had only been married six months but had been together for 17 years, she said. They have a 9-year-old son together.
She said she dropped her husband off near Five Points at Bi-Rite and he walked away. She heard from him several times during the afternoon and evening. His last call to her was around 10 p.m.
Holman is the only witness thus far that saw any portion of the fight between Johnson and Cromwell.
The trial continues through this week.