Monday, 14 January 2008

Rickey Johnson freed in Louisiana after a quarter-century in prison

IP News

Rickey Johnson freed in Louisiana after a

quarter-century in prison

Innocence Project client Rickey Johnson was freed

this morning in northwest Louisiana after serving

half his life in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.

DNA testing on evidence from the crime proved

Johnson’s innocence and matched another man,

who is serving life in prison for a rape committed

in the same apartment complex as the crime for

which Johnson was convicted. Johnson is the

10th person to be exonerated by DNA testing

in Louisiana and the 211th nationwide.

photo of Rickey Johnson with his sister and niece

Johnson, who was 26 when he was arrested and is now 52,

was embraced by more than 30 family members after a judge

fully cleared him at a hearing this morning. He had three

young children when he was arrested, and a fourth was

born shortly after he was incarcerated; all of those

children are now adults, and he has grandchildren

he’s never met. (Above: Johnson with his sister,

left, and his niece, right. Shreveport Times

photo by Vickie Welborn)

Johnson was wrongfully convicted in 1983 after

the victim misidentified him in a deeply flawed

photo lineup consisting of an eight-year-old photo

of Johnson and just two other photos. Misidentifications

— often due to suggestive lineups or procedures —

were involved in more than 75 percent of the

wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing.

Since his wrongful conviction, Johnson has been

at Louisiana’s massive state penitentiary at Angola.

He is free today because prosecutors in Sabine Parish

where he was convicted cooperated with the Innocence

Project in locating the evidence and seeking DNA testing.

Other Innocence Project clients remain in prison, seeking

DNA testing that could prove their innocence.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Doug Moreau

has fought DNA testing in several cases for years.

Tomorrow, Johnson will join other Louisiana

exonerees at a press conference to call for statewide

access to DNA testing and preservation of evidence.

Also tomorrow, Johnson will meet with the family of

Archie Williams, an Innocence Project client in East Baton

Rouge who has sought DNA testing for 13 years.

Johnson, Williams’ family and Innocence Project

Co-Director Barry Scheck will call on Moreau to

end years of unnecessary litigation and finally consent

to DNA testing in cases where it can prove guilt or innocence.

Read a post on today’s Innocence Blog by Vanessa Potkin, the Innocence Project Staff Attorney who was in Many, Louisiana,

this morning to walk Johnson out of custody.

Read today’s Innocence Project press release in Johnson’s case.

No comments: