GREENWOOD, SC – A man pled guilty on Thursday to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of a former member of the “Bloods” gang in December 2010.
Herman Jerome Johnson entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter before Circuit Court Judge Frank Addy Jr. on Thursday and received a sentence of 26 years for the shooting death of 31-year-old Porfiro Howard at his home on Washington Street.
The incident occurred just before 7 p.m. on December 8, 2010. Johnson went to Howard’s home with the intention of robbing him. Shots were exchanged between the two and Howard died as a result of a gunshot wound.
Initial information pointed to a revenge shooting by the “Bloods” gang after Howard opted to leave the gang and change his life. Investigators later developed information that Johnson had been involved in the shooting. Johnson agreed to take a polygraph test and, after performing poorly on the test, gave police a full confession to the shooting.
Johnson’s attorney, public defender Janna Nelson, said that Johnson suffered from a “serious mental illness” contributed to the crime. According to a report prepared by Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts, a consulting forensic psychiatrist for the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Johnson suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and “Psychosis Not Otherwise Specified,” which Nelson identified as schizophrenia. Andrew Hodges with the Solicitor’s Office told Judge Addy that he had considered Johnson’s mental illness in the reduction of the charge from murder to voluntary manslaughter.
Johnson has been incarcerated at the Johnson Detention Center in Laurens County since his arrest on March 30, 2011. He was given credit for his time served as part of his sentence. Voluntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two to 30 years and is considered a violent, most serious offense, which requires that Johnson serve at least 85%, or a little over 22 years, of his 26 year sentence.