South Georgia Local News

Jury: Johnson GUILTY on All Charges in Attempted Murder of Effingham Deputy

An Effingham County jury returned a verdict Friday in the case against a man charged with attempted murder of an Effingham County Sheriff’s deputy. 

Franklin Hope Johnson stabbed Sergeant Danny Harrington nine times in 2016 as Harrington and three other deputies attempted to execute a 1013 order filed by Johnson’s grandparents and signed by a probate judge. Harrington knocked on the door and, within seconds, was attacked by a knife-wielding Johnson. The scuffle that followed involved a violent attack on Harrington by Johnson, which only stopped with the intervention of three other deputies, multiple pairs of handcuffs, and two Taser deployments on Johnson. 

In mid-2016, a grand jury indicted Johnson on twelve felony counts, including Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder, Aggravated Battery (x 2), Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer (x2), Aggravated Assault (x2), Obstruction of an Officer (Felony), Attempted Removal of a Weapon from a Public Officer (x2), and Possession of a Knife During Commission of a Felony (x2). 

Prosecutors contend that Johnson saw deputies approaching, armed himself with a knife, and attacked Harrington in a willful attempt to resist apprehension. 

Defense attorneys, however, spent the better part of the two days claiming the state had no evidence to suggest that Johnson was not experiencing a psychotic episode brought on by a mental disorder.

Over the course of two full days of trial, jurors heard testimony from four deputies from Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Danny Herrington himself, the father, grandfather, and grandmother of Johnson, two agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a medical professional for the defense, and an independent medical professional appointed by the court. 

The contentious trial pitted the defense against the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and medical professionals who contended that Johnson’s psychosis in 2016 was substance abuse-induced.  On Friday, the commencement of jury deliberations was delayed over concerns of possible juror misconduct and they finally went into the deliberation room at 10:15 a.m.

Jurors deliberated for an hour and forty-five minutes Friday morning before announcing they reached a verdict.

  • Count 1 – Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder – Guilty
  • Count 2 – Aggravated Battery – Guilty 
  • Count 3 – Aggravated Battery – Guilty 
  • Count 4 – Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer – Guilty
  • Count 5 – Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer – Guilty 
  • Count 6 – Aggravated Assault – Guilty 
  • Count 7 – Aggravated Assault – Guilty 
  • Count 8 – Obstruction of an Officer (Felony) – Guilty 
  • Count 9 – Attempted Removal of a Weapon from a Public Officer – Guilty 
  • Count 10 – Attempted Removal of a Weapon from a Public Officer – Guilty 
  • Count 11 – Possession of a Knife During Commission of a Felony – Guilty 
  • Count 12 – Possession of a Knife During Commission of a Felony – Guilty

Read the details of Day 1 and Day 2 of the trial here.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter:

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