Prosecutors explain why murder charge reduced

Police: Man punched driver, who then ran over 22-year-old, killing him

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Greg Johnson
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Greg Johnson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The State Attorney's Office explained Wednesday why a man once charged with murder had the charges against him reduced.

Greg Johnson was 26 years old when detectives said he punched a driver outside the Jacksonville Landing. That driver then ran over 22-year-old Taylor Evans (pictured below), killing him.

Johnson had been charged with murder and burglary with assault, but prosecutors have since opted for a lesser punishment.

Prosecutors said some of the witness recanted their statements and there just wasn't enough evidence to prove that Johnson was guilty of murder.

Taylor Evans
Taylor Evans

It started with a fight outside of Maverick's at the Landing in August 2012. As the bar let out, witnesses told police someone punched a woman. Then came mayhem.

Police said Johnson punched 31-year-old Brian Patterson as he tried to drive away, thinking he was the one who hit the woman. Patterson's truck then ran over Evans, who was also in the parking lot. Evans died.

Patterson left the scene, investigators said, and was later arrested for DUI. Johnson was charged with murder and burglary.

But nearly two years later, prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence or witness statements to keep the murder or burglary charges.

In a statement, prosecutors said, "There is no longer proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the murder of Mr. Evans, nor the burglary with an assault against Mr. Patterson. Therefore, the State of Florida agreed to resolve the case for a felony probation disposition."

Johnson won't spend any more time in jail and has pleaded no contest to criminal mischief, a third-degree felony.

Gene Nichols, attorney for Taylor Evans' family, released this statement Wednesday evening: "The chaotic events that led to Taylor's death have finally been resolved in criminal court. The Evans family finally has an opportunity to properly grieve the loss of their son and the father to their granddaughter.  We can only hope that all parties involved in this awful situation have learned, or will learn that there are always consequences to our actions."