In 1988, Jerome Johnson was convicted of participating in the murder of a man in Baltimore and spent 30 years—more than half of his life—in prison. For all of those years, he insisted that he was innocent. And on Monday, with the help of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Johnson was declared innocent by a judge and freed.
No physical evidence linked Johnson to the crime. According to the Baltimore Sun, Johnson tried 15 times to get his conviction overturned but to no avail until defense attorney Nancy Foster took on his case. Foster found strong evidence of Johnson’s innocence and asked the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) of the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office to look into his case. With the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Foster and the CIU reinvestigated Johnson’s case and discovered “evidence proving Johnson’s innocence, including statements from co-defendants, alibi witnesses, and new evidence undercutting an eyewitness that placed him at the scene,” writes the Sun. Based on the newly discovered evidence, the unit asked the court to clear Johnson’s murder conviction.
In a statement, Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project Legal Director Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said: “Jerome Johnson has proclaimed his innocence for 30 years, but those proclamations fell on deaf ears in the courts until today. . . . We’re thrilled that Nancy Forster and the CIU [Conviction Integrity Unit] both recognized the seriousness of his innocence claim and got us involved to help free Mr. Johnson.”