Strong words, and a ‘Big Lebowski’ quote, in Austin murder trial


10:40 a.m. Prosecutors in Steven Johns’ murder trial argued surveillance video shows he did not act in self defense when he killed Joseph Lapaso.

The video, taken from a smoke shop on Montopolis Drive, shows Johns stabbing Lapaso in the chest and then chasing him across the street and stabbing him two more times — once more in the chest, and in the back.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is cold blooded murder,” prosecutor Rob Drummond said.

Drummond mocked the defense’s assertion that Johns had to defend himself against the taller and tattooed Lapaso. He said if that’s grounds for killing, “I’m going to be the only person alive in Travis County because I’m short and I don’t have tattoos.”

Johns’ attorney, Joe Sawyer, called Lapaso a “thug” who was “his own damn victim.” He also said there is not evidence supporting testimony from Johns’ girlfriend who said he was high on K2 at the time of the attack.

The jury has been deliberating since about 10:30 a.m.

Earlier: Closing arguments in Steven Johns’ murder trial will take place Thursday morning.

Johns, 19, is accused of stabbing Joseph Lapaso during a roadside argument in East Austin on July 1, 2016. On Wednesday, jurors saw surveillance video from a smoke shop that shows Johns taking a knife from his pocket and stabbing Lapaso in the chest.

Johns then chased Lapaso across the street and continued the attack. Lapaso collapsed in the smoke shop parking lot.

Johns’ attorneys admit the attacker is Johns, but say he acted in self defense.

On Thursday, state District Judge Clifford Brown sided against Johns’ attorneys who had requested jurors be able to consider lesser charges.

Johns chose to not testify at the trial.



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