JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. - Nearly 12 years after Miguel Hinton fell down a stairwell in Toano, 36-year-old Christopher R. Johnson was sentenced in a Williamsburg courtroom Monday after confessing to pushing the 32-year-old Newport News man to his death.
Johnson was given a 10-year sentence, the maximum allowable under state law for voluntary manslaughter.
Miguel Hinton died at VCU Medical Center in Richmond on October 18, 2010, one day after he was found with severe head trauma at the bottom of an apartment stairwell in Toano, in the 7900 block of Lynn Circle. The Richmond medical examiner initially ruled his death to be accidental.
In March 2021, grand jury indicted Johnson on a second-degree murder charge for his role in Hinton's death. In September, a jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Even before Monday's sentencing, Johnson was serving multiple decades in prison for two previous rape convictions. Virginia Department of Corrections records show a release date of 2053 for Johnson; however, a VADOC official told News 3 that does not yet account for the 10-year sentence handed down Monday.
"When did he confess?" News 3 reporter Leondra Head asked Catherine Black, the prosecutor on the case.
"In June of 2019, he contacted police investigators and let them know he wanted to confess and get that off his chest," Black said.
Black, the Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Williamsburg and James City County, tells us Johnson confessed nine years after killing Hinton.
"It's not uncommon for people to confess, but it’s uncommon for them to confess after that amount of time has passed," Black said.
It happened on October 17, 2010, at an apartment in Toano. Johnson admitted to police that he had been arguing with Hinton before pushing him down the stairs.
"Everyone indicated Mr. Johnson had been in an argument with Mr. Hinton and that Mr. Johnson had fled the scene. Mr. Hinton was found at the bottom of the stairs with obvious trauma to the head," Black said.
According to court documents, Hinton had bleeding to the brain and multiple skull fractures in the back of his head that indicated severe blunt force trauma - a copious amount that would be seen in a serious fall or a car accident.
"People had seen Mr. Johnson fleeing the scene. He had made statements to people at the time that he had been responsible for and pushed Mr. Hinton. He initially denied being involved in the offense. He was suspected all along from the very beginning and initially denied that," Black said.
With Johnson’s previous rape convictions and his role in Hinton's murder, he is projected to be released from prison in 2063, when he'll be 77 years old.
State court records indicate Johnson has a lengthy criminal history. In Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court, Johnson has a 2005 conviction for unlawful wounding, a 2014 conviction for gang recruiting and a 2016 conviction for rape, as well as assault and battery.
In New Kent Circuit Court, records show a 2011 conviction for abduction by force or intimidation. In 2019, Johnson was convicted of rape once again, this time in King and Queen County, resulting in a 30-year active sentence.
Hinton leaves behind two daughters.
Johnson's attorney declined to comment when reached by News 3.
News 3’s John Cowley contributed to this report.