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Family Members Testify To Save Convicted Murderer’s Life

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Defense lawyers continue to try to save the life of a man who has been convicted of murdering an elderly store clerk.

Matthew Johnson apologized to the family of Nancy Harris for setting the 76-year-old on fire during the robbery of a Garland convenience store and asked the jury to spare his life.

His family and friends took the stand on Tuesday, the fourth day of the penalty phase in the capital murder trial, in an attempt to keep Johnson off death row.

Johnson’s mother-in-law, who is not being identified at the request of the judge, told the court the two used to pray together and that he was a giving person.

“He have a good personality. He’s a good person. He try and help anybody…anything. He’s a good person,” she testified.

Johnson’s older brother, who is currently incarcerated, said his brother has been a good father to his three children.

“He take care of them, like any father. Change their diapers, feed them. At that time, he was a good father,” said Timothy Johnson.

Johnson admitted he has drug problem, and that he was high on crack cocaine, trying to steal money for more drugs when he set Harris on fire.

Johnson’s sister-in-law testified that he wanted treatment for his addiction, and at one point asked Garland police to put him in jail so he could get sober.

“He wanted to get locked up…to try to get help,” she said.

The defense is arguing Johnson suffers from depression. However, prosecutors pointed to drugs as the real root of his behavior.

Defense lawyers intend to call more witnesses Wednesday morning. The jury can sentence Johnson to life in prison or the death penalty.

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