Johnny Michael Allen was an American youth minister and real-estate agent who was shot dead at his home by a 16-year-old girl named Cyntoia Denise Brown. According to the statements given by Brown during her trials, Johnny had picked her up from a parking area in Nashville and had driven her to his home with the intention to have sex. Reports suggested that Brown was a minor pushed into prostitution and even on the day of the murder, the two had had a “deal.” Brown, who lived in a motel with her abusive boyfriend, later claimed that she had murdered Johnny to save herself. The murder weapon was a pistol that Brown had got from her boyfriend. Following the incident, a lot of people supported Brown. Johnny’s friends and family, however, claimed his intentions were not harmful. Johnny, who began working as a real-estate agent in 1995, had often been described as a diligent and sincere employee. According to sources, he had wanted to be a country songwriter, but the cut-throat competition in the music industry did not let him be one. After a number of trials, Brown was eventually found guilty and was sentenced to 51 years of imprisonment. In 2018, the case reopened, and the governor of Tennessee reduced the period to 15 years. Brown’s life story is chronicled in the 2011 documentary 'Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story.'
On August 6, 2004, at around 11 pm, Brown was waiting at the parking area of a ‘Sonic’ drive-in on Murfreesboro Road for someone to drive her to East Nashville. An employee of a restaurant nearby stated that Brown had stopped a ‘Ford’ truck to inform the driver of the vehicle's missing headlights. Johnny was driving the truck. He drove off after fixing the headlights.
During her trials, Brown stated that Johnny had asked if she wanted food and a place to stay. She had then replied in the affirmative and had accompanied Johnny to his house. However, some sources have reported that Johnny had directly asked Brown for sexual favors in exchange for money.
The employee who had noticed Brown at the ‘Sonic’ drive-in stated that Johnny had ordered some food from the restaurant. Reportedly, after reaching home, they had had dinner and a brief chat. Johnny had then told Brown that he was an army man and a sharpshooter. He had also showed her his gun collection, which included a double-barrel shotgun, a pistol, and a .22-caliber rifle. According to Brown’s statements during the trials, Johnny had made her uncomfortable while they were watching TV downstairs. He had tried kissing her, but she had pushed Johnny back. Brown had then told Johnny that she was tired and wanted to sleep.
Johnny had then brought her to his bedroom, where he had again attempted to touch her. He had also got naked. Brown had then discouraged Johnny again and he had eventually flipped onto his side of the bed. Investigators were also told that later in the night, Johnny had stood up to go to the bathroom. Brown had mistaken the act as Johnny’s attempt to kill her.
As a protective measure, Brown had shot Johnny in the back of his head with her .40-caliber pistol, which her boyfriend had earlier given her for safety. After murdering Johnny, Brown had robbed Johnny’s house and had gone back to the motel she was living in. Apart from money and some valuables, she had also stolen Johnny’s shotgun and rifle from his gun case. She had also taken Johnny’s truck and had driven it to her motel.
At around 2 am, Brown reached her motel room, where her boyfriend had been waiting. She later revealed that her boyfriend had been angry, as she had brought the guns to the room and had not attempted to hide them somewhere. Brown had later abandoned Johnny’s truck at a 'Walmart' store in Antioch.
The day after the murder, Brown had offered half of the robbed money to a friend, in exchange for a drive. She also wanted to check if the police had discovered the murder or if they had found Johnny’s dead body. However, the friend later claimed that Brown did not have any money and that she had tricked him.
Brown had also called Johnny’s home. The call had gone unanswered. She had then called 911 to and had given them Johnny’s address. Brown mentioned that before hanging up, she had uttered the word “homicide.”
The police found Johnny’s dead body a night after the murder. His partially covered body was lying on the edge of the bed. According to the investigation reports, the body was turned toward the side where Brown would probably have slept. Johnny’s finger was found tangled in a relaxed position.
The friend Brown had negotiated with gave the address of Brown’s motel to the police. Around six police officers went to arrest Brown from the motel. She pleaded guilty and confessed to the murder.
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Brown was a minor when she murdered Johnny. She tried to justify the murder by saying that it was an act of self-defense. She was later kept at a mental health institute, where she displayed violent behavior toward the nurses.
According to the documents provided by the court, Johnny was a divorcee. He got divorced in 1999. He had worked as a real-estate agent and was a well-known person in his community. Johnny was a youth minister at 'Lakewood Church of Christ' and was an occasional teacher at a Sunday school.
Facts against Johnny
During the trials, Brown’s attorneys left no stone unturned in assassinating Johnny’s character. To justify their claims, they submitted statements of two witnesses. The first witness was a 17-year-old restaurant employee named Jessica Snyder. She told the court that Johnny was a regular customer of the restaurant. She also said that the waitresses there deliberately avoided serving him, as he often made them uncomfortable. Snyder added that he had once given her his business card that had a message written on it. The message read: “You’re gorgeous. I’d love to take you out sometime, so let me know.”
The judge, however, rejected her statement, saying it was irrelevant to the case. The statement was not presented to the jury. The second witness was also a woman who was acquainted with Johnny. She stated that they had met at a Mexican restaurant. They had begun a conversation after she caught him winking at her. She said Johnny had asked her to visit a church he was affiliated with. She, however, did attend a few of Johnny’s classes at the church and even agreed to his proposal of a date. However, instead of going to a public place, Johnny had taken her to his home. She said that Johnny had attempted to rape her.
Moreover, many celebrities came forward in Brown’s support. They asked the court to consider her upbringing and pardon her taking into account the circumstances in which she had grown up.
Facts Favoring Johnny
According to sources, Johnny was trying to be a “good samaritan.” One of his former real-estate agency colleagues stated that Johnny might have had good intentions toward Brown and that he had possibly thought of bringing positivity to the homeless minor girl’s life. Some of Johnny’s other friends also suggested that he might have actually tried to help Brown.
Brown had had a rough upbringing. She was raped, drugged, and pushed into prostitution at a tender age. The jury did not consider these facts during the trials. The panel also rejected her claim of self-defense.
In Johnny’s defense, the prosecutors pointed out the fact that his body was facing the wall and that his fingers were interlocked. The position indicated that he was shot in his sleep and that he was not reaching out for a gun to kill Brown.
According to an article published in 2006, Johnny’s brother, Randy Allen, pleaded with the-then judge, J Randall Wyatt, to order a severe punishment for Brown. Randy had apparently said, “I pray that Cyntoia will never be free into society again.” His mother, on the other hand, was not as harsh as Randy. She said, "I do not know Cyntoia Brown, and I do not hate Cyntoia. I just hate the act that she did.” Prosecutors defended Johnny, claiming that Brown had murdered Johnny just for the thrill of it and also to rob him.
The jury finally found Brown guilty of first-degree murder and motivated robbery. She was sentenced to 51-years-to-life in prison, and it was stated that she would be eligible for parole only after turning 67. However, on January 7, 2019, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam passed an order to shorten the span of Brown’s sentence. Brown’s release is now scheduled on August 7, 2019. She will also have to serve 10 years of supervised parole.