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Day 1 of Michael Johnson Trial: Jury Selection

May 12, 2015

Aaron Laxton is covering the HIV criminalization trial of Michael Johnson in Missouri. Johnson, who was a college wrestler at the time of his arrest, faces felony charges in Missouri for allegedly not disclosing his HIV status to sexual partners. Aaron will be live tweeting from the courtroom using the hashtag #MichaelJohnson. The Counter Narrative has provided this list of ways to support Johnson during his trial. Read Part 2 of Aaron's coverage.

Greetings everyone!

I am providing a summary in an effort to keep everyone in the loop. Jury selection kicked off around 9:45 a.m. on Monday, May 11. There were 51 prospects in the jury pool. Half men, half women. One African American female and the rest were white.

Michael has been charged with 2 Class A felonies, (Transmitting), four Class B felonies of Risking Exposure. Each class carry carrying a penalty of 15-30 to life and the class B of up to 15 years each.

At times the Prosecuting Attorney zeroed in on homosexuality. At one point the issue of sin and morality was raised. Throughout the selection the jury pool was polled as to whether they believed being gay was a sin, whether a person was born that way and whether it was immoral.

The pool was polled to determine whether they believe that HIV criminal laws were needed and what was unanimous, 51 hands raised.

The Prosecuting Attorney and his team of two attorneys took over 2.5 hours to questions and re-question potential jurors. Heather Donovan (MJ's Public Defender) asked a few questions in the afternoon then informed the judge that was all that she had.

In the end 4 white men, 6 white women and 1 black woman were seated as the juror which will decide Michael's fate.

On Tuesday, May 16, opening statements will start at 8:30 a.m. and the state will kick off its case.

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HIV Law in 30-Year Michael Johnson Conviction Is Unconstitutional and 'Grossly Disproportionate,' Advocacy Groups Tell Court
We Shall Not Be Removed: Black Gay Men Respond to the Sentencing of Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson Found Guilty of "Reckless Infection"
Day 2 of Michael Johnson Trial: Opening Statement and Initial Testimony
On Uplifting Voices, Social Justice and Listening to HIV Criminalization Accusers
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Jury Finds Michael Johnson Guilty of HIV Transmission and Exposure
In the Face of Fear: The Criminalization of HIV Transmission
Views on the Trial and Conviction of Michael Johnson, a Black Life That Matters
Michael Johnson Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for HIV Transmission, Exposure

This article was provided by TheBody.


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My HIV Journey

Aaron Laxton

Aaron Laxton

I am simply a guy who on June 6, 2011, received the news that over 33 million people have received: I am HIV positive. I decided in that split moment to record the journey that I was embarking on so that I might help others as they receive that news.

I am not a doctor and I do not endorse any agenda other than simply living a healthy life. I am an activist and advocate and simply want to make the world a better place. I hold a degree in sociology and psychology. I am a product of the Missouri Foster System and this is one of my main passions, second only to the work I do with HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention.

I embrace a sex-positive model. People are going to have sex; it is a natural part of who we are. However we need to make sure that it is safe. I can be found on weekends throughout St. Louis, Missouri, passing out condoms and safe-sex kits.

I am now an M.S.W. student at Saint Louis University's College of Public Health and Social Justice and the School of Social Work.

Whether in St. Louis, D.C. or around the nation, I always jump at the chance to help change not only policies to better serve those that need help but to also change the landscape of the society that we live in.

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