Federal Trial for Westside Shooter Begins Today in Fayetteville

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Mitchell Johnson, who killed five people with another boy in a 1998 ambush in a Jonesboro school yard, will appear today in federal court as prosecutors try to send him back to prison.

Johnson faces a single charge, whether he had possession of a firearm while either using or being addicted to a controlled substance.  It carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

The case initially started as a misdemeanor, but state prosecutor Brian Lamb dropped the charge at the request of federal officials.  Lamb said at the time that federal prosecutors believed "they can hang a felony" on Johnson.

Jack Schisler, Johnson's federal public defender, has described the charge as "very unusual."

The case comes after Washington County sheriff's deputies pulled over Johnson in a van on New Year's Day 2007 driven by friend Justin Trammell, who killed his father with a crossbow as a teen.  Johnson told deputies they planned to move south of Los Angeles to Carlsbad, California.  There, Johnson said, they had a two bedroom, two bath townhouse waiting for them, only ten minutes away from the Pacific Ocean.

Region 8 News Reporter Will Carter is covering the trial live in Fayetteville, and will blog updates on kait8.com as well as on-the-air throughout the week, beginning today.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)