A Greensboro man pleaded not guilty on Monday to murder in an argument that began when a man who was subsequently shot was not allowed to buy beer because an employee thought he was too drunk.
“All for helping a store clerk get him out of the store,” Daryl Johnson told police at the scene of the shooting, according to a court record released Monday.
“I know the child. I worked with him at Gravel Construction, and I worked alongside him, ”Johnson told police of Robert Chaplin, the 27-year-old man he is accused of killing. “He wasn’t a bad boy.”
Johnson, 51, pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon in Orleans County Superior Criminal Court in Newport to a charge of second degree murder and the offense of manslaughter in Chaplin’s death on the 20th. October.
While Johnson is charged with both offenses, Orleans County District Attorney Jennifer Barrett said Monday he could only be convicted of one. Kelly Green, the attorney representing Johnson, could not be immediately reached on Monday for comment.
Judge Lisa Warren has ordered Johnson to be held without bail until an evidentiary hearing is held.
Vermont State Police arrested Johnson on Friday night after investigating the shooting for more than a week. Johnson claimed self-defense.
State Police said Chaplin, who lived in East Hardwick, went to the Hardwick Convenience Store and Deli to try and buy alcohol, but an employee told Chaplin he was too drunk to buy more alcohol.
Johnson, who was in the store at the time, intervened in the argument between Chaplin and the clerk, police said. About 90 minutes later, Chaplin showed up at Johnson’s residence in Greensboro, where a confrontation ended in a shootout.
The second degree murder charge alleges that Johnson acted “with intent to kill, or with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, or without regard to the likelihood that death or grievous bodily harm would result. “.
The other charge simply alleges that Johnson “committed manslaughter in causing the unlawful death of Robert Chaplin”.
Second degree murder carries a maximum penalty of up to life in prison. Manslaughter is punishable by at least one year in prison and up to 15 years.
A 14-page affidavit filed in the case by Detective Sgt. Francis LaBombard of the Vermont State Police was released following Johnson’s arraignment on Monday, shedding light on the shooting and the events leading up to it.
According to this affidavit, interviews and surveillance video show that Chaplin walked into the store on the evening of October 20 and tried to buy a 12 pack of Bud Light beers, and after paying for it, left the counter and had spoken to another customer in the store.
According to the record, the clerk then called Chaplin back to the counter, and on the store video, Chaplin and the clerk can be seen shooting the 12-pack of beers before Chaplin let go.
LaBombard wrote that Johnson can then be seen in the video pushing Chaplin through the store doors and continuing to push Chaplin into the parking lot.
“Johnson ends up pushing Chaplin all around the store to the back parking lot,” the LaBombard affidavit said, later adding: “At no point can Chaplin be seen on security video acting in a physically aggressive manner. “
A Hardwick police officer arrived at the store after Chaplin left and the officer spoke to Johnson, according to the affidavit. Johnson told the officer he had come to the clerk’s aid. Chaplin told him that he knew where he lived and that he would be heading to his home to “take care of him” later that night, according to the affidavit.
The officer reported that, as he left the store, Johnson told him that if Chaplin showed up at his house, he “[expletive] mess it up. “
Later that night, according to the affidavit, Chaplin visited Johnson’s home on Eligo Lake Road in Greensboro, and a confrontation took place outside the house before Johnson shot Chaplin, who did not was not armed.
At some point after the shooting, according to the affidavit, Johnson can be heard on a video asking how Chaplin was doing.
“Any word on how Robby is doing?” I don’t want him to die. That’s all I need is a murder charge, ”Johnson said, according to the affidavit.
“I don’t want him to die,” Johnson said in the affidavit. “It was totally self-defense. I was scared for my life, especially because of what happened earlier. He’s lucky I didn’t bring my shotgun.
Johnson told police that when Chaplin entered his driveway he grabbed his projector and .22 caliber pistol, came out and confronted Chaplin and told him to leave, according to the affidavit.
Video from Johnson’s home security system shows Johnson leaning against the driver’s side door of Chaplin’s vehicle, lighting up Chaplin’s face, according to the affidavit.
Johnson can then be heard on the video saying, “See that, buddy?” and “Do you see that barrel?” And telling Chaplin to leave, according to the affidavit.
Seconds later, according to the affidavit, Johnson can be heard saying, “Drill it straight into your [expletive] to manage. At this moment, you have already threatened me.
Johnson told police that at one point, Chaplin opened the door to his vehicle and pounced on him, according to the affidavit, and Johnson said his gun had failed twice because he had forgotten he had security.
Once Chaplin jumped on him again, according to the record, Johnson said he shot Chaplin in the chest and then assisted him until first responders arrived.
After an autopsy, the Burlington Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Chaplin’s death a homicide, caused by a gunshot to the chest and arm.
“I told him to get the [expletive] from here where I was going to shoot, ”Johnson told police, according to the affidavit. “He kicked the door out for me and I [expletive] put one in his chest and that’s it.
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