Phylicia Barnes

On Wednesday jurors found Michael Johnson guilty of second-degree murder in the December 2010 death of Phylicia Barnes.

Barnes was from North Carolina, but was visiting family in Baltimore for the holidays when she went missing shortly before her 17th birthday.  The teen’s body was found months after her disappearance, in the Susquehanna River, in April of 2011.

Police did not make an arrest until April of 2012, when they took Michael Johnson into custody in connection with Barnes’ murder.

Following yesterday’s conviction, Barnes’ mother told WBAL: “The elephant took one of his feet off my chest, so I can breathe a little bit now.”

“Justice has been served as we’ve been fighting for the last almost two-and-a-half years. Justice has been served for my daughter. This is a bittersweet day,” Barnes’ father, Russell Barnes, told WBAL.  “This should’ve never happened. It’s torn up three families from one person’s act.”

The jurors reached a guilty verdict after nine-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Johnson’s father, Glenton Johnson, commented: “It is what it is, and we still feel in our hearts that Michael Johnson is not guilty.”

Sentencing for Johnson takes place in March, reports WBAL.

The case led to a bill in the Maryland legislature called “Phylicia’s Law,” to improve coordination between law enforcement and community groups when a child disappears, the Associated Press reported.