Jury finds man innocent in Hannibal shooting death

Friday, September 26, 2003

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A northeast Missouri man has been found innocent of first-degree murder charges in last summer's shooting death of a St. Louis man.

Jurors deliberated nearly seven hours Wednesday before clearing Dennis Simon, 20, in the July 2002 killing of 17-year-old Dorian Johnson.

Simon appeared to be praying while the verdict was read.

Simon testified earlier in the day that he was present when another man shot and killed Johnson at a downtown apartment in this city, about 100 miles north of St. Louis.

Simon testified that he did not know Johnson was at the apartment until he went upstairs and spotted him, and the two began a fist fight. During the fight, the other man left and returned with a friend, who gave him a handgun he used to shot Johnson, Simon said.

Simon said he did not know the other man intended to shoot Johnson.

Simon was arrested in late November in Roseville, Minn., after he was stopped for improper placement of his vehicle license plate.

Simon said he left town because he was scared and did not report the killing because he was afraid of retaliation.

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