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Grand jury deliberations begin in Johnson's death

LUCEDALE -- A George County grand jury has just finished hearing from more than 30 witnesses in connection with the Dec. 8 shooting death of George County High School football star Billey Joe Johnson Jr.

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said the grand jury said they felt they had enough evidence to start their deliberations, though their findings were not expected to be completed and made public until as early as Thursday.

Johnson, 17, died Dec. 8 after a George County sheriff's deputy pulled him over on Mississippi 26 for running a red light and a stop sign.

The deputy said he was at his patrol car when he heard the shotgun blast and Johnson fell to the ground outside his truck, with the gun on top of him.

Minutes before the stop, Johnson had been identified as a suspect in a burglary in progress at his former girlfriend's home.

George County Sheriff Garry Welford initially said that it appeared that Johnson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Johnson's family said he did not kill himself.

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