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After more than a decade in prison, Knoxville man will get new trial in pizza server's killing

Authorities allege Micah Johnson murdered an acquaintance near her North Knoxville home in 2008. He'll get a new trial in January.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A January retrial date has been set for a Knoxville man who served more than 10 years in prison for murdering an Old City pizza server as she came home from work.

Micah R. Johnson, now 35, appeared Thursday morning in Knox County Criminal Court with defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs. Johnson has been moved from the state prison system to Knox County custody to await a new trial in the 2008 killing of Carrie A. Daugherty.

Criminal Court Judge Scott Green set a Jan. 9, 2023, trial date for Johnson.

In the meantime, Isaacs wants a shot at getting his client out of custody. At Isaacs' request, Green set a May 20 day to consider what kind of bond might be set to give Johnson a chance at freedom.

"Our firm will continue to represent Micah Johnson after we were able to successfully have his case reversed and remanded by the Tennessee Court of Appeals," Isaacs told 10News. "We have filed a motion asking the court to set a reasonable and constitutional bond."

Johnson attacked and killed Daugherty, 24, an acquaintance, early March 19, 2008, outside her North Knoxville home after she got off work from Barley's in the Old City, authorities say. Johnson fled and was caught hours later by authorities, after he went to the Henley Bridge, seemingly prepared to jump into Fort Loudoun Lake.

Johnson surprised her in the dark, bashing her head with a brick and then stabbing and mutilating her with a shovel, evidence at trial showed. Daugherty, who roomed with Johnson's girlfriend, fought back but died, evidence showed.

Carrie Daugherty

A jury convicted Johnson in 2011 of premeditated murder and especially aggravated kidnapping among other counts. Johnson was sentenced to spend decades in prison, where he's been held ever since.

After his conviction, Isaacs began asking questions about the way Johnson's original defense team handled reports by a mental health expert at trial. The defense argued then and continues to argue today that Johnson suffers serious mental health problems such as delusions.

Isaacs filed what's called a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing Johnson's constitutional rights had suffered at trial.

Isaacs contested that the original defense team's failures amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel, entitling Johnson to another shot at a trial.

The post-conviction court disagreed that the errors were so bad that Johnson deserved a new trial. In January, however, the state Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed. It sent the case back to Knox County for a retrial.

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