Walter "King Tut" Johnson never thought victory could feel so empty. Just after 9am on Oct 24,1996, Johnson strode into the courthouse at 360 Adams St. in downtown Brooklyn, excited at the prospect of returing home later that day on a not-guilty verdict stemming from a robbery charge.
Though Johnson had a criminal record that one prosecuter dubbed "extraordinary"-his rap sheet included a dramatic holdup of a Jehovah Witness Hall in 1983 , also numerous acquittals in a number of shootings and robberies , including the 1993 attempted murk of a cop in a Brooklyn barbershop.
Johnson attorney had informed him that he'd have a good shot at a not-guilty verdict or even having his case dismissed. But as Johnson passed through the courthouse metal detectors and made his way to the courtroom, he was accosted by a group of men dressed in plain business like attire in the hallway. The men followed Johnson to the courtroom, where moments after the judge announced that he was dismissing the robbery case, the men in business attire promptly stepped forward and slapped handcuffs on him.
The well dressed men happened to be U.S Marshalls and King Tut was on his way to being indicted by the Feds. As he was driven to the U.S District Court in Brooklyn, Johnson started to panic; this was his first run in with the feds and his extensive criminal background made him an easy target.
Johnson's fear of a life behind federal bars increased to near parylisis when the marshals in the car accused him of shooting Tupac Shakur at Quad studios in Times Square New York in 1994 and of having murked the rapper just six weeks earlier, on Sept 13, 1996.
"I'm screaming at them..like 'You crazy!!- I didn't do either one of them", Johnson remembers sayin. "I didn't k!ll nobody, I didn't k!ll Tupac!"
The agents wasn't buying it, in fact they were so convinced Johnson had k!lled Tupac that they asked to search his truck-which was parked in a garage near the courthouse-in hopes of finding the murk weapon.
When Johnson arrived at U.S District Court later that day, though he was only accused of a series of robberies in Brooklyn. Much to their chargin, the federal agents did not find the weapon used in the Quad shooting or Tupac's murk.
King Tut was hit with 12 federal charges stemming from three armed robberies, and not the murk of perhaps the most iconic rapper in hip hop's history, should have come as a profound relief to Johnson. But it didn't-Johnson knew that if he was convicted, he could be sentenced to life without parole under the "Three Strikes" provisioin of a federal crime bill passed by congress in 1994, which mandated a sentence of life imprisonment for violent three time federal offenders. "That was the worst day of my life" says Johnson speaking to KING MAGAZINE from the U.S Penitentary in Lee, Virginia.