An appeals court has upheld a jury's death penalty verdict for a man convicted of gunning down a Bristol, Tenn., police officer.
Nickolus L. Johnson was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder in the Nov. 27, 2004, shooting death of Bristol Tennessee Police Officer Mark Vance. In sentencing Johnson to death, the jury found two aggravating circumstances -- that Johnson had previously been convicted of felonies involving violence to persons, and that he knew or should have known Vance was a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties.
According to court records, Vance was shot and killed at the home of a 17-year-old girl Johnson had impregnated that summer. The girl's father, a truck driver, had called police from the road to report a disturbance at his home after the girl called and told him a man was in their home, threatening her.