Police who pulled over the alleged killer the same night as this summer's execution-style shooting of a Brooklyn woman let her go, not realizing the suspect they were looking for was a woman, prosecutors revealed in court.
Claudia Banton, 42, appeared in court Friday one day after the Georgia woman was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly shooting Delia Johnson in the back of the head as she chatted with people by a stoop in August. The motive for the killing remains unclear at this point.
Banton refused to answer questions when led from the 77th Precinct stationhouse the morning of her arraignment in downtown Brooklyn. She appeared before Justice Vincent Del Giudice where she entered a plea of not guilty.
Prosecutors in court claimed Banton "shot the victim point blank in the head." They also said the 42-year-old was pulled over right after the shooting, but at the time police didn't realize they were looking for a female suspect and released her.
Banton, who also goes by the names Claudia Williams and Kiesha Brown, was picked up by police in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month --- more than three months after the killing in Crown Heights that was caught on camera.
Surveillance video of the shooting previously released by police showed a woman in black leggings get out of a double-parked white sedan and casually shoot Johnson in the head as she chatted with a group of people by a stoop.
The shooter calmly walked back to the car with her purse on her shoulder and drove off, police said. Johnson was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Banton previously spent over seven years in a Georgia prison for forgery and has been prior felony convictions in that state as well as New Jersey.
The 42-year-old victim's brother told the Daily News at the time he thought the shooter followed Johnson from a neighborhood funeral that both had attended.
“She was at a funeral earlier in the evening for an old neighborhood friend to pay her respects, and then this happened,” Mathis Johnson, 47, told the paper. “It was horrible. That lady executed my sister.”
Family members said Johnson was an entrepreneur and the mother of a 17-year-old daughter. Her mother, Delia Barry, said after her death, "I'm in so much pain, I'm numb...trying my best to hold myself up but the slaughter, that's what it was."