Jesse Lee Johnson: Oregon Court of Appeals overturns conviction of a Black man who has been on death row for 17 years

Johnson was convicted in 2004 of stabbing Harriet Thompson to dying at her dwelling in 1998. However attorneys representing him after the conviction found {that a} neighbor, Patricia Hubbard, dwelling throughout the road from the sufferer mentioned she had seen a White man enter the home across the time of the killing.

Nevertheless, police didn’t interview this witness, and neither did the attorneys who had been representing Johnson at his trial. The appeals court docket mentioned this was a crucial error that would have affected the case.

“We conclude that the poor efficiency by petitioner’s trial counsel did end in prejudice,” Decide Rex Armstrong wrote on Wednesday.

Thompson was stabbed in her Salem dwelling in the course of the early hours of the morning, in response to court docket paperwork. Her upstairs neighbor heard screaming and two witnesses positioned Johnson on the dwelling the evening of the homicide.

Police arrested Johnson every week afterward a probation violation cost. Johnson mentioned he knew the sufferer however denied being in her dwelling. However though police discovered Johnson’s fingerprints in the home, they didn’t discover his DNA on proof intently related to the homicide, such because the homicide weapon. An informant additionally testified towards Johnson.

Johnson was charged with aggravated homicide and earlier than his trial rejected a suggestion to plead responsible to manslaughter and theft and obtain a 15-year sentence.

Nevertheless, Hubbard mentioned she noticed a White man drive up in a van and enter the sufferer’s dwelling on the evening of the homicide, in response to court docket paperwork. She mentioned she had observed the person on the sufferer’s dwelling many occasions earlier than. Hubbard subsequent heard shouting and crashing noises after which silence, adopted by the person working out of the again door. Fifteen minutes after that Hubbard mentioned she noticed a Black man strolling down the driveway. She could not say whether or not he had come from inside the home, however thought it may be a person to whom she had been beforehand launched by the sufferer.

Hubbard mentioned she tried to inform the police twice what occurred however they did not take her assertion. “I began telling him what I noticed, and he stopped me, and he mentioned, ‘that will not be needed,'” Hubbard added in response to court docket paperwork.

Legal professional: Racism and police misconduct performed a major position

Johnson’s attorneys mentioned they hope prosecutors will drop the costs relatively than try and retry the case.

“The proof on this case reveals that racism and police misconduct performed a major position in Mr. Johnson’s wrongful conviction in 2004,” protection lawyer Ryan O’Connor mentioned in a written assertion.

However, deputy district lawyer Amy Queen told the Oregon Public Broadcasting in an announcement that, “till a full evaluation is full, we’re not ready to debate any particulars in regards to the case, the appellate choice, or subsequent steps.”

CNN has reached out to the Marion County District Legal professional’s Workplace however has not but acquired a response.

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