Neighbor pleads not guilty to killing Westside grandmother

Darnell Johnson, 24, being held without bond in death of Shirley Blakely


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 24-year-old Jacksonville man charged with killing his neighbor in her Westside home pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder.

Darnell Johnson is being held without bond in the Duval County jail. He is accused in the stabbing death of Shirley Blakely, 54.

Johnson was initially questioned the day after Blakely was found dead in her home and was charged with criminal mischief because he damaged surveillance camera equipment at the jail.

He was later charged with Blakely's murder.

Johnson's mother told police that because of Johnson's strange behavior, she was going to have him Baker Acted before he was taken into custody by the Sheriff's Office.

Family members said Blakely's son found her dying at home after she had been attacked. Before she died, they said, she identified her attacker.

Days before she was killed inside her home, the home was hit by gunfire, and police said several shell casings were found. According to the incident report, she told police there was a drug house down the street.

Johnson is also facing unrelated drugs and weapons charges from an arrest earlier this year. That case is set for trial next month.

His next court hearing on the murder charge is Aug. 19.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Blakely's family with funeral expenses.