Following an eight-day jury trial in Anne Arundel’s Circuit Court detailing a fatal shooting at a pool party in 2019, a Glen Burnie man has been sentenced to life for murder in the first degree, plus an additional 20 years incarceration for related assault offences.
Jacovi DeVaughn Johnson, 24, was convicted by a jury in April of murder, assault and firearms charges stemming from his involvement in the fatal shooting at a crowded pool party in Glen Burnie, where James Antonio Diggs IV, a 29-year-old auto mechanic from Baltimore, was killed.
Police and prosecutors said during the trial that Johnson and Dion Isom Sanders drove a rental car to the pool party on July 5, 2019, and struck Diggs in the leg with the vehicle. Diggs smashed the rental car’s windshield, police said, and Johnson responded with a hail of gunfire – 11 rounds. Diggs was pronounced dead after being taken to a trauma center.
According to an obituary presented at Friday’s sentencing hearing before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Michael Wachs, family members said Diggs was a ‘crafty’ father known for writing poetry and drawing, as well as cooking on the grill for his family. He had played football at Carver Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore and had recently worked as a mechanic.
During the trial, prosecutors Christina Ferris and Nancy Jeffein-Ohlin relied on testimony from Sanders, who said Johnson was the one who shot Diggs, also adding that he and Sanders shared possession of the gun. In return for his testimony, Sanders entered into a plea deal and received a 10-year sentence, suspended for up to five years, for acting as an accessory to murder; and a 65-year sentence, suspended to 16 years, for an unrelated home invasion case.
Johnson’s lawyers had argued that police had “tunnel vision” when investigating the shooting, refusing to investigate Sanders as a suspect as they focused on Johnson. On Friday, they shared letters of support from Johnson’s family and friends with the judge.
Wachs sentenced Johnson to the mandatory minimum life sentence for first-degree murder, as well as 10 consecutive years each for two first-degree assault convictions stemming from the shooting.
Johnson will serve the first five years of his sentence without the possibility of parole, according to court records. Wachs recommended that Johnson be sent to Patuxent Institution, a prison in Jessup that provides treatment-oriented services to inmates.