PORT ALLEN — Tales of sex, love, lies and murder were spun for jurors Tuesday as the former boyfriend of Monique O. Kitts claimed she paid him four times to find a contract killer for her husband in the mid-2000s and the last man he suggested to Kitts, an old friend, committed the slaying and told him about it.
But David Ray Johnson said he really never intended to be a part of a murder plot.
“I just wanted the money,” Johnson said during the second day of the second-degree murder trial of Kitts, 45, of Livingston, and Karl Michael Howard, 30, of Roswell, Georgia.
The two are accused in a murder-for-hire conspiracy in the slaying of Kitts’ husband, Corey Kitts, 40, who was shot to death in July 2010 while he was in bed in the couple’s Addis home.
The owner of the All Aboard Daycare in Plaquemine, Monique Kitts is accused of hiring Howard, a Verizon employee living in Atlanta, to kill her husband so she could cash in his $549,000 life insurance policy.
Kitts and Howard each have been indicted on counts of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.
Johnson, the first witness to take the stand Tuesday, agreed to testify against Kitts and Howard in 2013 after prosecutors informed him he was a target in the murder investigation. Johnson has not been arrested or charged in the alleged conspiracy.
Johnson said Tuesday that Howard told him Monique Kitts gave him a key to her house in Addis, where he found Corey Kitts asleep in his bed, called out his name, which roused Kitts somewhat, and then shot him.
Johnson also testified that Howard told him he expected $100,000 for the murder, but when Monique Kitts didn’t have the money, Howard began making threats.
Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton asked Johnson what Kitts told him then.
“She said she was trying to figure out how she was going to pay him (Howard),” Johnson said. He said she said she started letting Howard use her credit card to buy things.
But after the morning’s testimony, Monique Kitts’ defense attorney, Allen Myles, tried to hammer Johnson’s credibility on cross examination. Myles got Johnson to acknowledge that he was a “con man,” “deceiver” and “schemer” who lied to women to get what he wanted and lied to police initially about what he knew of the murder and Kitts’ desire to kill her husband. Myles also raised Johnson’s 1997 conviction for sexual battery.
The defense attorney pointed out that Johnson’s testimony was based on what he claimed others had told him about the slaying — primarily Howard and Kitts — or what he said they did. Myles pressed Johnson for independent proof.
Johnson admitted he could not verify the payments that Kitts gave him to find killers because she paid cash.
Johnson told prosecutors earlier Tuesday that he originally met Kitts at her day care in Plaquemine during his weekly milk delivery route for Kleinpeter Dairy in 2006. Johnson, who was married at that time, said he had an affair with Kitts beginning that year, once consummating the relationship at a Port Allen soccer field in the late afternoon, and continuing until months after Corey Kitts was killed.
Kitts fell for the former milkman as her marriage with Corey Kitts was flagging, Johnson said.
Opening with “Hi Sweetie, Merry Christmas,” Kitts wrote to Johnson in a December 2006 email, which was entered into evidence, that “these long-ass nights alone without you are killing me” and added she was looking forward to a time when they could be together.
Myles, who told jurors Monday that Kitts had ended her affair with Johnson in January 2007, pressed Johnson for proof that his relationship with Kitts extended years past that date as Johnson claimed.
Johnson told the defense attorney that he, Monique Kitts and another woman had “a three-way,” a group sexual encounter, in 2010. The statement prompted gasps from the courtroom audience.
Johnson told Myles he could find the woman’s Facebook page and get a name.
Myles later charged that the murder plot was Johnson’s idea because he figured if he had Corey Kitts out of the way, Monique Kitts could continue buying him things as she had in the past.
Myles claimed Johnson was lying to save himself and throwing Kitts and Howard “under the bus,” which Johnson denied.
Johnson told prosecutors that Kitts initially brought up killing her husband as a joke but later said she was serious.
Kitts paid him $2,000 the first time she asked him to find someone to kill her husband, Johnson said, but he testified that he never provided her with a name. Instead, he told her he knew someone who would do it. The third time he provided Kitts with a name of a friend. She paid Johnson $1,000, but instead of discussing killing anyone, Johnson said, he split the $1,000 with the friend.
On cross-examination with Myles, Johnson said he also gave the friend Corey Kitts’ work schedule, which Monique Kitts had given Johnson, so the friend would know Kitts wanted him to have it.
In 2008, Johnson told jurors, Kitts paid him a fourth time to find a killer. This time, he testified, he gave her Howard’s name. She paid Johnson another $1,000, but he said he never discussed killing Corey Kitts with Howard.
Johnson testified he never heard Kitts mention Howard again, and she never again asked him to find a killer. But Johnson testified Kitts later asked him not to tell investigators about their affair if they interviewed him about her husband’s murder.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.