Oregon: Conviction overturned for Black man on death row after 17 years

The Oregon Courtroom of Appeals has reversed the aggravated homicide conviction of a Black man who has been on loss of life row for 17 years. The court docket stated Jesse Lee Johnson didn’t obtain an sufficient defence.

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

Nonetheless, police didn’t interview this witness, and neither did the attorneys who have been representing Johnson at his trial. The appeals court docket stated this was a vital error that might have affected the case.

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


Thompson was stabbed in her Salem residence throughout the early hours of the morning, based on court docket paperwork. Her upstairs neighbour heard screaming and two witnesses positioned Johnson on the residence the night time of the homicide.

Police arrested Johnson per week afterward a probation violation cost. Johnson stated he knew the sufferer however denied being in her residence. However though police discovered Johnson’s fingerprints in the home, they didn’t discover his DNA on proof carefully 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 proposal to plead responsible to manslaughter and theft and obtain a 15-year sentence.

Nonetheless, Hubbard stated she noticed a White man drive up in a van and enter the sufferer’s residence on the night time of the homicide, based on court docket paperwork. She stated she had seen the person on the sufferer’s residence 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 stated 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 is likely to be a person to whom she had been beforehand launched by the sufferer.

Hubbard stated 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 stated, ‘that will not be essential,'” Hubbard added based on court docket paperwork.


Johnson’s attorneys stated they hope prosecutors will drop the fees somewhat than try to 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,” defence legal professional Ryan O’Connor stated in a written assertion.

However, deputy district legal professional Amy Queen advised the Oregon Public Broadcasting in a press release that, “till a full overview is full, we’re not able to debate any particulars in regards to the case, the appellate resolution, or subsequent steps.”

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

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