Man charged with murder of retired firefighter during a botched carjacking cops a plea, will testify against others

CHICAGO — One of three adults charged with murdering retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams in December 2020 has entered a plea deal and agreed to serve as a cooperating witness against the other defendants, according to court records.

Dwain Johnson, 20, will plead guilty to aggravated battery with a firearm, the plea agreement says. If he cooperates, the state will recommend a sentence of 30 years to be served at 85%. Murder and other charges will be dropped.

In a separate filing, prosecutors laid out the testimony they expect Johnson to provide against Jaylen Saulsberry, Devin Barron, and juvenile David Williams.

Anticipated testimony

On December 3, 2020, the group drove a stolen Ford Fusion to Chicago, and Barron spotted Williams’ car in traffic.

“There goes a Trackhawk… Bust a U-y,” Barron allegedly instructed.

A video grab of the carjacking in progress. | Chicago Police Department

Johnson turned the car around and followed Williams. The court filings say that the crew initially planned to set the carjacking into motion by bumping Williams’ vehicle. But Johnson didn’t get an opportunity before Williams parked outside Let’s Get Poppin’, his favorite popcorn shop.

Johnson and the crew perched in Rep. Bobby Rush’s office parking lot and waited for Williams to leave the store, according to the filing.

As Williams returned to his Jeep, Johnson pulled up behind him, and the other three defendants jumped out. Barron and Saulsberry displayed handguns while the juvenile was unarmed, according to the allegations.

Prosecutors say that the retired firefighter, a concealed carry holder, pulled out his revolver and fired at least one shot before Barron and Saulsberry returned fire. Williams suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen and died.

The group fled in the stolen Fusion, leaving Williams’ vehicle behind. Johnson told prosecutors that the crew planned to sell Williams’ car. He would have pocketed a couple of hundred dollars.

Chicago police released video of the carjacking attempt as they tried to identify the offenders:

Johnson texted his girlfriend, saying they were coming to pick up her car because they “did too much and they were still in the car they did it all in,” the court filings say.

After picking up her Chrysler 300, the crew wiped the Fusion down and dumped it in Tinley Park.

Back in Indiana, the foursome discussed what happened—that Saulsberry left one of his shoes at the murder scene, and the juvenile got out of the Fusion even though he wasn’t supposed to, prosecutors wrote.

Johnson confessed to his girlfriend a couple of days later and searched Google for information about the murder in the hours after it occurred, the filing said.

In a separate filing, prosecutors revealed that Johnson’s attorney disclosed that the group participated in an earlier shooting in Blue Island on the same day that Williams was murdered.

Prosecutors wanted Judge Timothy Joyce to bar Johnson from discussing the Blue Island shooting. The judge denied that request, according to court records.

Both Saulsberry and Barron had felony cases pending at the time of Williams’ murder. Juries will hear their cases. (UPDATE: Saulsberry and Barron were convicted by juries on Wednesday evening, June 21, 2023. Sentencing is pending.)

Additional matter

Last month, prosecutors accused Johnson of trying to bribe a correctional officer to help him smuggle drug-laced paper into Cook County jail with the help of his girlfriend. Johnson allegedly offered to pay the jail employee $1,500 for receiving the papers, laced with synthetic cannabinoids, from the woman and bringing them into the jail.

Instead of doing that, the correctional officer went to their supervisor, launching an investigation. 

His plea deal calls for him to receive a three-year sentence in that case.

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