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Trial begins in West York homicide case

Liz Evans Scolforo
717-505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

The prosecution told jurors during opening statements Monday that they will hear from a jailhouse snitch and an ex-girlfriend of Carlos "Los" Johnson, both of whom will testify Johnson confessed to the homicide of Lancelot Hylton.

Carlos "Los" Johnson

"Mr. Johnson just couldn't keep his mouth shut," chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch said. He described Johnson and co-defendant Ramon "Boopers" Rosario Jr. as arrogant and sloppy criminals.

"Either they were stupid or they just didn't care," he said.

But defense attorney Karen Comery said Johnson maintains he wasn't at the homicide scene and is innocent. On Friday, he turned down a plea agreement that would have required him to serve four to 10 years in state prison.

Comery told jurors during her opening statement that Johnson's ex-girlfriend is trying to "get even" with him.

Trial began Monday for Johnson, 36, of Chambersburg, who is charged with second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

On Friday, Rosario, 31, of York, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder. As part of his negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in state prison, which must run consecutively with whatever prison time he receives on his federal court case.

Rosario in February pleaded guilty in Harrisburg's federal court to tampering with a witness. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 14, according to court records.

Ramon "Booper" Rosario Jr.

Set up meeting: In court on Friday, Rosario admitted he called Hylton and set up a meeting about Hylton owing someone money. At that meeting, Hylton and Johnson argued, according to Rosario.

Things got out of control, he said, and Johnson shot Hylton. Rosario admitted he was handed Hylton's wallet and tossed it away as he left the homicide scene.

But Maisch's opening statement indicated that perhaps he's not convinced it was Johnson who pulled the trigger. And court records show Rosario pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in an unrelated York City homicide and was sentenced to 7½ years in state prison.

"You need not determine who fired the fatal shot" to find Johnson guilty of murder, Maisch told jurors.

Rosario 'the key': Maisch repeatedly advised the jury to pay close attention to how facts of, and witnesses in, the homicide case are connected to Rosario.

"Booper(s) is the key to everything in this case," he said.

Hylton, 41, was found dead on the front steps of his home at 1100 W. King St. just after 4:30 a.m. Aug. 26, 2014, West York Police have said. He suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, according to police.

Witnesses Monday included Hylton's neighbor, Amy Bitner, who testified she witnessed three men arguing outside her window about 4:40 a.m.

Argued over money: Two of them were asking the third for money, and the third was saying he didn't have their money, she said.

Charges against the third co-defendant, David A. Jackson, 28, of Harrisburg, were withdrawn Monday morning by the York County District Attorney's Office, according to court records.

Maisch stated in court on Friday that the charges were being dropped  because his office learned new information about the case.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.