Accused Somerton Shooter Arraigned in Belmont County

A judge set a trial date Tuesday for the man accused of a fatal roadside shooting in December.

Harold Johnson Jr., 45, of Lewisville pleaded innocent to aggravated murder with a firearm specification during arraignment proceedings in Belmont County Common Pleas Court. His pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 23, with a plea agreement deadline of Feb. 6 and trial on Feb. 13.

Johnson remained in custody Tuesday at the Belmont County Jail, and his bond was continued at $1 million.

The charges stem from the shooting of Clint Stephens, 48, of Jerusalem on Dec. 12 along Ohio 800 south of Somerton. Reports indicate the two men met on the side of the road, and Johnson exited his vehicle and allegedly shot Stephens, who was still inside his car.

Stephens was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was sent to Licking County, Ohio for an autopsy.

The sheriff’s department declined to release any further information regarding any possible relationship between the two or any reason for the altercation, but Sheriff Dave Lucas previously said Johnson was arrested about 15 minutes after the shooting by Monroe County sheriff’s deputies in Malaga Township. Lucas also thanked witnesses at the scene for quickly contacting the authorities, which he said helped lead to a quick arrest.

If convicted, Johnson faces possible sentences including life without parole, life with the possibility of parole after 30 years, after 25 years or after 20 years. The firearms specification carries an additional three years, should he be convicted of it. The three years on that specification would be served before the life sentence, if one is imposed.