Conviction upheld for knife-toting man busted after drunken Wal-Mart scooter ride

KALAMAZOO, MICH. - A drunken scooter ride through Wal-Mart probably isn’t a bright idea, but it becomes even more troublesome when you’re toting a knife.

That’s the upshot of a Michigan Court of Appeals decision, which let stand a weapons conviction for a Kalamazoo County man stemming from an alcohol-fueled ride at Wal-Mart nearly two years ago.

Toney Lee Johnson, 58, is serving a 3 to 20-year sentence for carrying a concealed weapon.  A Kalamazoo County jury convicted him of the weapons offense and a lesser charge of being an intoxicated, disorderly person.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to a Kalamazoo Wal-Mart in November 2014 after store employees saw Johnson driving an electric cart around the store while apparently intoxicated and drinking, court records show.

During an “unpleasant confrontation’’ with Johnson, a Wal-Mart worker saw a knife under Johnson’s coat or strapped to his belt, court records show.

A Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy arrested Johnson for being a disorderly person. The deputy recovered a knife with a five-inch blade, which Johnson said he used for hunting and fishing.

During trial, Johnson testified that he uses a knife and fishing pole for sporting activities, but also offered that he “can’t use a gun.’’ That opened the door for the prosecutor to bring up Johnson’s status as a parolee, which prohibits him from carrying any sort of weapon.

In his appeal, Johnson argued there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of carrying a concealed weapon because the knife was not hidden. The Court of Appeals disagreed.

He also said the prosecutor should not have been allowed to ask about his status as a parolee, which precludes Johnson from having a weapon. The Court of Appeals sided with Johnson on that point, but said it was not enough to overturn his conviction.

Carrying a concealed weapon carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but Johnson’s term was increased because of prior felony convictions.  He’s being held at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia and is eligible for parole in June 2018.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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