MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH! Alabama DA Demands New Trial for Man on Death Row for Over 20 Years

MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH! Alabama DA Demands New Trial for Man on Death Row for Over 20 Years

An Alabama district attorney has requested that a judge order a new trial for a man who has been on death row for more than 20 years.

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr filed a brief in favor of Toforest Johnson’s request for a fresh trial. The DA stated that a study determined that the 1998 conviction was erroneous and “cannot be justified or allowed to stand.”

Carr has advocated for a new trial since 2020, but the most recent petition highlighted the results of a post-conviction examination of the case. He stated in the brief that “a thorough review and investigation of the entire case leaves no confidence in the integrity of Johnson’s conviction.” The interest of justice requires that Johnson be given a fresh trial.”

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Johnson has been on Alabama’s death row since 1998 when he was convicted of the 1995 murder of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy, who was shot twice in the head while serving off-duty security for a motel. However, Carr, who was elected as the county’s district attorney in 2018, stated that the “evidence in this case has unraveled over 20 years.”

Carr stated that credible alibi witnesses situated Johnson elsewhere at the time of the crime. He stated that there are numerous reasons to question the major prosecution witness, a woman who “claimed she overheard Johnson confess to the murder on a three-way phone call on which she was eavesdropping.”

The DA claimed that the “physical evidence contradicts” her account. He claimed she was paid $5,000 for her evidence and has appeared as a witness in other trials.

“The lead prosecutor now has such grave concerns about (her) account that he supports a new trial for Johnson,” Carr wrote of the prosecutor who oversaw the case in the 1990s. The motion was the most recent move in the long-running legal fight to obtain a new trial in the case, which has received national attention and is the subject of a podcast.

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Former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, former Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, and several former judges and prosecutors filed filings with the circuit court or wrote editorials in support of Johnson’s fresh trial. The latest petition was submitted in 2020, but it was put on hold while previous appeals were being heard in other courts.

The Alabama attorney general’s office has not reacted to the most recent filing. In 2022, the agency requested that a judge dismiss Johnson’s petition: “Mr Carr’s opinion that Johnson should receive a new trial is just that, his opinion,” attorneys for the attorney general’s office wrote.

Shanaye Poole, Johnson’s daughter, expressed gratitude for Carr’s cooperation in getting her father a fresh trial. “We hope the judges will agree with him. Our goal is that our family can finally be together,” Poole stated. She claimed her father has always maintained his innocence. “We’ve had to live in a nightmare for so long,” she stated.

In 2022, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a lower court judgment that denied a separate plea for a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers claimed the state failed to disclose that a key prosecution witness was paid a reward.

In May, the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that Johnson’s attorneys had failed to prove that the witness was aware of or motivated by the incentive.

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