Milwaukee beating death, Terry Johnson enters guilty plea

<div>Terry Johnson</div>
Terry Johnson

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee man pleaded guilty to felony murder, ending his trial, in connection to the 2022 beating death of Rodney Surprise.

Court records indicate 49-year-old Terry Johnson reached a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday. As part of that deal, a charge of robbery with use of force was dismissed. He is scheduled to be sentenced next year.

Johnson was one of two men charged in Surprise's death. Marvin Millner, 58, was sentenced in May to 19 years in prison; he had pleaded guilty to felony murder and taking a vehicle without the owner's consent as part of a plea deal.

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Case details

According to a criminal complaint, police responded to a battery complaint near 5th and Chase on Milwaukee's south side the night of Oct. 25, 2022. When officers arrived, they found a man, later identified as Surprise, lying on the pavement unconscious.

Surprise was taken to a hospital where he died from injuries. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy, and found Surprise's cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

<div>Rodney Surprise</div>
Rodney Surprise

Police recovered a video from a gas station. The complaint said the video was of "good clarity" and showed three men assaulting the victim. Johnson and Millner were identified in the video. The third man was not identified.

The complaint said the video shows Surprise arrive in a car and park outside the gas station. Millner and the third man confronted Surprise after he exited his car. At one point, Surprise tried to get back into his car – but Millner and the third man stopped him. Johnson was then seen leaving the gas station's convenience store, and the victim then went inside.

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Surprise was in the store for about 20 minutes. The complaint said Johnson and the third man went in and grabbed Surprise by the back of his sweatshirt collar, and the third man punched Surprise – knocking him down. Surprise was eventually dragged outside where prosecutors said Millner and the third man went through his pockets. The third man punched Surprise some more, then walked off with Johnson.

According to the complaint, while Surprise was lying on the pavement, badly beaten, Millner got into Surprise's car. The victim "crawls and struggles to pick himself up and get to his car," eventually opening the door and grabbing Millner. Prosecutors said Millner threw Surprise to the ground and drove off. Surprise fell limp.

<div>Marvin Millner</div>
Marvin Millner

A store clerk told police he heard one of the three men yelling at the victim, ordering him to "pay for $40 worth of items" that they wanted," per the complaint. Police later interviewed Johnson and Millner.

Johnson told police he knew the other two men by street names, and those two "thought the victim owed them money because earlier another person had tried to take things from the victim, and they had helped the victim out of that situation." Johnson admitted to dragging the victim out by the back of the hoodie.

Millner also told police he knew the other two men by street names. Per the complaint, he said that while he was waiting outside the store, he knew the other two were "going to go inside to pull out the victim." Millner admitted to grabbing Surprise's keys out of the victim's hand and driving off in his car. He said he was high on crack cocaine, too.