News 12.19.13

New York Exoneree Lends Support to Pennsylvania Inmate

A Pennsylvania man whose murder conviction was dismissed last year had only five months of freedom before the decision was reversed and he was ordered back to prison. On Wednesday, supporters for Lorenzo Johnson, who spent 16 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit, urged the Attorney General to dismiss the case against him.
The Associated Press reported that several inmate advocacy groups, including the

Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice

, founded by New York exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic, are rallying for Johnson’s release. Deskovic, who served 16 years in prison for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA exonerated him in 2006, drove Johnson back to prison in May. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do since being released, to turn somebody back to prison,” Deskovic said Wednesday in an interview with the Associated Press. “It was a very emotional and difficult journey on the way there.”
Johnson was charged as an accomplice in the 1995 shooting death of Taraja Williams outside a Harrisburg bar after prosecutors said he left the bar with the gunman and the victim. The pair were convicted of first degree murder after a witness testified they had been arguing with the victim about money earlier that day.
Last year a U.S Appeals Court ruled that evidence against Johnson was lacking and threw out the conviction. In May, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling without hearing any arguments.  
Johnson’s attorney, Michael Wiseman, is preparing another round of appeals, based on new information he said shows evidence was withheld before trial and puts Johnson in New York the night of the crime. According to a spokesman from the Attorney General’s office, staff lawyers plan to meet with Johnson’s legal team next month about its findings.  
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