Editor's Note: This version corrects an earlier version that contained incorrect information about Aaron Johnson's plea.
Almost three years after Lenon Buie was shot to death on Port Road after leaving a bar that he owned, his accused killer has been sentenced to prison.
Aaron Johnson, 25, pleaded no contest Wednesday to first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and theft of property in the death of Buie, 85, on Jan. 8, 2016. Buie's body was found lying behind the grocery store he also owned at 3200 Port Road. He was pronounced dead at the scene of gunshot wounds to the head.
Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Johnson, who had been scheduled for trial beginning Wednesday, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder and 10 years for aggravated robbery, with the sentences to run consecutively, or one after the other, by Circuit Judge Jodi Ranies Dennis.
Dennis also sentenced Johnson to 10 years in prison for theft of property, with that sentence to run concurrently with the other sentences for a total 50-year sentence.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau and Deputy Prosecutor Jay Gerard represented the state during the sentencing hearing, while Johnson was represented by an attorney from Little Rock.
Buie's son, Mike Buie, told police that his father had left the Sunset Strip Bar about 30 minutes before he (the son) locked up and drove home, where he found the body and called 911.
During a search of the area around the crime scene, police found a black and red cap, a mask, a uniquely-patterned red and white jacket, black shirt and other items. Pictures of those items were released to the media and placed on social media.
Two witnesses came forward and said Johnson had been wearing clothing that matched what police found when he came to their apartment on Jan. 7. They said Johnson had talked about “hitting a lick” (committing a robbery or burglary) and when he returned to their apartment later that night, he was wearing only a tank top, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
“The witnesses said that before Johnson left, he said he had shot a man,” Pine Bluff Detective Steven Rucker said in a probable cause affidavit that was presented in court after Johnson was arrested.
During a second search of the area around the crime scene, police found a black and silver Ruger nine-millimeter handgun. One of the witnesses had told police that Johnson carried a black and silver Ruger nine-millimeter handgun in a nylon gun holster with an extra magazine pouch. A holster matching that description was found during the initial search of the area.
Johnson was arrested after police received a tip that he was hiding in a house in Little Rock, and Pine Bluff detectives worked with Little Rock police in locating Johnson, who was found hiding under a bed after the owner had given officers permission to search the residence.