Defendant, 61, says killing of teen was justified
By Heather Ratcliffe
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, May. 26 2010
ST. LOUIS — Johnnie Pulley called police repeatedly when he recognized the
teenager on a bus last July.
He was the same teen who had brutally assaulted Pulley, 61, on a bus en route
to work two months before, Pulley said.
When officers failed to arrive, Pulley followed the teen on two buses and then
across a street until they finally met on a sidewalk.
Moments later 17-year-old Brandon Colenburg was on the ground with a fatal
bullet wound to the stomach.
Now a St. Louis jury must decide whether Pulley acted in self-defense or killed
the teen for revenge. They were still deliberating late Tuesday.
Pulley, of the 6100 block of Laura Avenue, is charged with second-degree murder
and armed criminal action.
Pulley testified at his trial in St. Louis Circuit Court this week that he drew
his gun only when Colenburg turned with his fists cocked and lunged at him.
"It was a desperate shot in an attempt at self-protection," Pulley told the
jury Tuesday. "It was a life-and-death situation."
Pulley, who had a concealed weapon permit, said he carried a gun for
protection. He often left for work before sunrise in his rough neighborhood of
But prosecutor Dwight Warren argued that Pulley pulled the trigger because he
didn't want his attacker to get away.
"This is not a man who is afraid of serious physical injury," Warren said. "He
followed him on two buses and stopped him on the street."
Pulley told a St. Louis jury about the previous attack. He said he sat down on
a bus next to a teenager on April 29, 2009. Moments later the other passenger
began elbowing Pulley in the ear. Pulley told him to stop and the teenager
stood up and repeatedly punched him in the head.
The Metro bus driver and several bystanders pulled the attacker off the bus.
Pulley got medical attention and then reported the assault to police that
On July 1, Pulley was on the same bus route headed to his job in Olivette when
he saw who he believed was his attacker on the bus.
The teen recognized him too, Pulley insisted.
He called police and gave a dispatcher their location along with his police
report number from the assault.
The teen got off the bus and so did Pulley. Pulley waited at Delmar Avenue and
Goodfellow Boulevard for police to arrive. The teenager walked across the
street and boarded another bus. Pulley followed him because no officer had
Pulley took a seat across from Colenburg and called police again with new
directions. Everyone on the bus heard the call, Pulley said.
Colenburg got off near Delmar and Union. Pulley followed.
Pulley said when he told the teenager that he called police, Colenburg turned
Two witnesses, a Jehovah's Witness knocking on doors and a mother dropping her
children at day care, said they saw the confrontation but insisted the teenager
did not attack Pulley.
Both said his arms were by his sides when the defendant fired one shot.
Luella Johnson also testified that Colenburg could not have assaulted Pulley on
the bus April 29. He was at her home that morning after celebrating her son's
birthday the night before, she said.