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Jury trial set for Colorado Springs man accused of killing Walgreens coworker

Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 07, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — A jury trial date has been set for a man who is accused of killing Riley Whitelaw, who he worked with at a Colorado Springs Walgreens. Johnson's trial is set to begin on Mon. Sept. 25th. The incident happened last June at the Walgreens on Centennial Blvd.

Whitelaw's coworker, 28-year-old Joshua Johnson, was arrested shortly after the killing after he was found walking on I-25 near Walsenburg by Colorado State Patrol.

Whitelaw, a 17-year-old student at Air Academy High School at the time, was set to graduate this past school year. She was in the color guard at Air Academy, and had a passion for art.

Riley's mom, Courtenay, told News5 that she wants people to enjoy telling stories about her beloved daughter.

WATCH: 'Enjoy and let Riley guide you,' Riley Whitelaw’s mom encourages people to find joy

“Enjoy and let Riley guide you,” Riley Whitelaw’s mom encourages people to find joy

In May, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed 'Riley's Law' into effect. The law will take effect next year, and it is designed to protect the identities of underage crime victims and witnesses in reports to the public.

The mother turning tragedy into action

Case background

During the preliminary hearing last year, detectives detailed how Riley Whitelaw was found dead by her manager in the break room at the Walgreens off Centennial Boulevard in western Colorado Springs on the night of June 11, 2022. The manager had come to the store to check on his team member when she did not return from a break. Riley's coworkers told detectives she was "always on time" and her break was only supposed to be 15 minutes long.

Her coworker, 28-year-old Joshua Johnson, was arrested later that evening while walking south along I-25 near Walsenburg. He's facing a charge of first-degree murder in connection to Riley's death.

The lead detective told the court investigators were able to view surveillance video from the store and says no one in the store other than Johnson could have been responsible for Riley's death. Another detective searched Johnson's locker, finding an empty sheath for the multitool they believe was used to kill Riley. The locker also held pieces of paper with Riley's name and social security number, and her boyfriend's name, birthday, address, and his social security number. Video from Johnson's home shows he appeared "in a hurried state" when he arrived there in the time frame after the teen's death, according to the detective. Johnson was wearing a hoodie that covered his head and most of his face as he entered and left the home carrying what appeared to be water and other items, according to the detective.

The lead detective was also asked about the initial interview with Johnson after he was found walking along I-25. He described Johnson as having an abnormal haircut as if someone had done it themselves, and there were noticeable scratches around his face, as seen in his booking photo.

Johnson told the detectives he ran from the store after being attacked by another man in the dark break room while responding to hearing a scream from Riley, according to the detective. He also claimed to have fallen in blood in the break room.

When asked about being seen near the dumpster at the store, police say Johnson was trying to change his clothes because "he fell in the blood." Johnson told police he later went home then started driving south because he was afraid, then hid his car before walking. The manager on duty said while she was looking for Riley, she smelled bleach coming from the dumpster and saw someone's feet, an unrecognizable voice of a man told her he was changing, but she did not know who it was.

Detectives did a follow-up on Johnson's claim of being attacked by a man with blue eyes. They determined the description closely fits the description of an acquaintance of that same manager, but it was determined that person could not have been present at the time of the killing. Detectives believe Joshua Johnson is the person responsible for the killing.

RELATED:
Benefit on Saturday to keep Riley Whitelaw's memory alive, and give back to local art students
Colorado Springs man accused of killing a teenage girl in Walgreens enters not guilty plea
Preliminary hearing for suspect in Colorado Springs Walgreens homicide
Labor attorney weighs in on girl allegedly murdered by coworker in Colorado Springs Walgreens
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