By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Early the morning of July 20, 2010, after a night of hard partying and playing the video game Rock Band, Loftfield says an agitated Barker, playing the role of twisted hero, dressed in black like a ninja and then demanded Johnson accompany him to Takazato's.
There, Barker produced a knife, and when Johnson asked what he was going to do with it, he told her, "I'm just going to scare him," according to Loftfield.
The couple climbed a spiked metal fence to get onto the grounds of the estate, and although Johnson was "pleading" with Barker to leave, she agreed to get Takazato to come to the door — while Barker hid out of sight, prosecutors say. They contend that after talking briefly to her ex-boyfriend at the door, Johnson left, hoping Barker would follow her off the grounds.
But prosecutors say Johnson heard Takazato exclaim, "What the fuck!" At that point Johnson jumped in the car and drove off without Barker, they say, but he suddenly appeared in the road, holding a blood-soaked shirt, and Johnson picked him up.
Prosecutors introduced a video taken by a Beverly Hills Police Department cruiser as it responded to a 911 call from Takazato's housekeeper. The video showed a black Volkswagen Jetta — the same make and model as Barker's car — zipping away as the police unit approached the area.
Johnson spent a year in jail facing murder charges but eventually pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and was given five years' probation. In his opening statement on Sept. 5, Brunon told the jury, "She knows [the police] are going to find out she has a reason to hate Tony. ... She saves herself. She makes a deal."
Johnson has worked with prosecutors to create their legal narrative. But Brunon says someone else took her to Takazato's and carried out the vicious murder. "She takes the real culprit out of the equation," Brunon told the jury, "and puts Scott in."
Brunon is expected to present the defense's case soon. He tells L.A. Weekly that Barker's parents are "mortified. It's incomprehensible for them to think their son, who's never had legal problems, would murder somebody." He says they are certain their son is innocent.
Barker moved to Los Angeles with dreams of breaking into the entertainment industry. But according to former roommate Annie Smythe, whom Barker found through Craigslist, in 2010 he was much more into snorting coke at their rented Koreatown condo, drinking and going to clubs and parties. Barker met Chie Johnson on one of those nights.
"He didn't get up in the morning" most days, Smythe told the jury. "Why would he? He had nowhere to go."
She locked up her food because Barker was helping himself, and he failed to pay the rent, she testified — but he did get a pit bull. Barker suggested to Smythe that eviction was the perfect solution to get out of debt to his landlord, but Smythe, then a USC student, instead paid Barker's $500 rent for two months. Barker's parents, in the meantime, regularly sent him expensive Omaha steaks, which he only sometimes shared, Smythe said.
In court, Barker has dark circles under his eyes, and his head is shaved to a crew cut. He sometimes whispers to Brunon but mostly stares ahead.
Just before the murder, prosecutor Loftfield told the jury, Barker was planning to take Chie Johnson with him to Florida. He wanted them to start a new life — away from L.A.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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