Murder victim's parents still grieving Aaron Levenson's killer sentenced, but he leaves pain and grief behind.

April 17, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

A prison sentence of life plus 20 years closes the state's case against Jeffrey Lloyd Johnson, who murdered a furniture store executive Oct. 4 during an attempted robbery.

But, for the parents of the victim, Aaron S. Levenson, 30, the vice president of the Royal Furniture Co., the grief and pain are forever.

"Aaron was my baby and the light of my life," the mother, Tillie Levenson, 63, wrote in a victim-impact statement turned over to Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph I. Pines. "It was as if a bomb fell on our house and destroyed everything. The grief, the pain and the heartache that I live with every day of my life is unbearable. No one understands what it means for a parent to have to bury a child. It should be the reverse."

Pines, calling the shooting "callous and ruthless," yesterday sentenced Johnson, 26, to the maximum term of life plus 20 years.

Johnson, described as a gospel singer and church volunteer, shot Levenson three times outside the century-old, family-run business in the 500 block of S. Monroe St.

"I'm sorry for what happened," Johnson, wearing a double-breasted suit, said before sentencing. "I know what his family is feeling right now and I know what my family is feeling right now."

Johnson, of the 2800 block of Presstman St., pleaded guilty March 5 to first-degree felony murder, attempted armed robbery and a handgun violation. Pines yesterday merged the felony murder and attempted armed robbery convictions and imposed a life term. On the handgun violation, the judge gave Johnson a 20 year-sentence to run consecutively to the life sentence.

Prosecutors withdrew their recommendation of a sentence of life without parole as part of a plea agreement. Johnson will be eligible for parole in 20 years, according to his lawyer.

Johnson, who has a young daughter, was making about $5.50 an hour as a maintenance man at the time of the slaying.

Defense lawyer Randolph O. Gregory Sr. said the attempted robbery of Levenson grew out of "economic desperation" on the part of his client. The shooting was not planned. "Things went awry," he said.

Prosecutor Gary Schenker said the crime was motivated by "the greed to have money, to have possessions. If you have it and I want it, it's mine!"

Johnson took nothing as Levenson fell on top of two bank bags the victim was carrying, prosecutors said. The bags contained manifests and receipts but no cash. Levenson had $7 in his pockets.

Marc Sean Howell, 20, who said he was with Johnson during the botched robbery, was acquitted of murder charges last month. Howell testified he did not know Johnson planned to rob anyone.

Members of the Levenson family filled a row in court.

"I'll put it to you this way, the only thing that would have completely satisfied me would have been the death penalty or life without parole," Tillie Levenson said later. "Aaron had no second chance."

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