Apr 24, 2015 3:25 PM
Damian Johnson was arrested Sept. 25 for disturbing school and criminal trespassing after he was found in Manchester High School West with an airsoft pellet gun and a knife.
He was sentenced to three years in jail, but the emotional pleas from inside the courtroom gave a new perspective on Johnson.
“My son still has promise," Tanya Hollins, Johnson’s mother, said. "I don’t necessarily condone, but I understand why he felt the need to protect himself,” said
Before the Manchester West incident, Johnson was the victim of a stabbing. It was the reason he gave for bringing a pellet gun into the high school.
His mother attributes it to a traumatic childhood event involving another person.
“It left Damian with more than 10 bite marks over his body, including on both his inner thighs his stomach arms and neck, and he was thrown up against a wall head first,” Hollin said.
“Because of the injury, he’s going to act impulsively and reflect later,” William Schultz, Johnson’s attorney, said.
But with a previous criminal record - he was convicted of robbery and simple assault as well as probation violations and resisting arrest - the judge said he had no choice but to pass down a three-year sentence.
“Even though it may seem like I made a very bad choice - which is true - I just hope that you find it better not to send me to prison long term because I don't want to be institutionalized to lead down a further road of destruction," Johnson said.
"To only know jail, I don't want to know failure anymore.".
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