Crime & Courts

Double-murder trial in Richland starts

Opening statements were given this morning in the Richland County trial of John Henry Portee Jr., charged with killing two co-workers at a Wendy’s restaurant on Two Notch Road in 2006.

If convicted of the two murder counts, Portee faces life in prison without parole. He also is charged with armed robbery, accused of stealing $1,600 from the restaurant.

Carlaus Eugenia Johnson, 53, and Latora Michelle Bolton, 29, were found shot to death in a back room at the restaurant at 7355 Two Notch Road on Sept. 3, 2006. Their bodies were discovered after the restaurant manager learned that customers couldn’t get into the business, authorities said.

The jury trial before 5th Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard is expected to last several days. Portee is be-ing represented by the Richland County Public Defender’s Office.

-- Rick Brundrett,