Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson Rally in Harrisburg
Family and supporters of Lorenzo Johnson, a Pennsylvania prisoner framed for a homicide, will rally at the Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Thursday, May 29 at 2pm. Supporters demand that the Attorney General’s office drop its case against Lorenzo, which was built on police and prosecutor misconduct.
Although Johnson was not accused of participating in the shooting, only of allegedly being near the alley where the murder took place, he was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1996 at the age of 22. According to new evidence, Lorenzo was not in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the night of the murder of Tarajay Williams. He was 170 miles away, at home in New York, when the murder occurred.
Johnson has been released from prison once before, when the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction in 2011 due to insufficient evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision in May 2012, sending Johnson back to prison without following the usual process of allowing his lawyers the opportunity to file briefs or make oral arguments.
On August 5, 2013, Johnson’s attorney Michael Wiseman filed a motion (PCRA) seeking a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence. The filing contains new sworn affidavits from people who had knowledge of the murder and of the real killer(s), information that discredits key prosecution witness Carla Brown, and evidence that Johnson was in New York at the time of the murder and could not possibly have been involved.
The newly discovered evidence contains numerous instances of unconstitutional conduct on the part of the police and prosecution in Johnson’s case. Johnson and his trial counsel were never told that the prosecution’s star witness, Carla Brown, was questioned on the night of the shooting and had to be worked on for months in order to get her to implicate Johnson.
Suquan Ripply Boyd also provided an affidavit to Johnson, revealing for the first time that he was coerced by Detective Duffin into providing a false statement. Boyd and Johnson were in New York City on December 14-15, 1995, the same date the murder occurred. Prior to the trial, Boyd signed a statement that he could not recall the exact date after Duffin threatened him with a longer prison sentence than the one he was serving at the time.
On March 5, 2014, yet more evidence of state misconduct was filed in a supplemental petition, exposing that the lead detective in the case, Kevin Duffin, has a close, family-like relationship with witness Victoria Doubs and “looked out for her” in her encounters with other police on robbery and drug charges. Doubs was used by the prosecution to establish the fabricated motive for the murder despite the fact that she was with Lorenzo Johnson in New York City at the time of the shooting.
The Attorney General’s office has refused to consider the newly discovered evidence and is continuing the frame-up with the intention of forcing Johnson to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Lorenzo’s wife Tazza spoke at a press conference called by the Families of the Wrongfully Convicted in NYC on April 9, 2014:
“Greetings and support from my husband Lorenzo Johnson, an innocent man, sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania for a murder he did not commit eighteen years ago. He fought and won his freedom. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction. The court said there was insufficient evidence. Lorenzo was home for four months. But the state of PA appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and ordered him back to prison. My husband along with his friend Jeff Deskovic drove himself back to prison—to a sentence of life without parole. He had the courage to do that, to fight for his exoneration and freedom.
“I am pleading to our “Justice System” to do what’s right and free Lorenzo Johnson today!!! Bring our nightmare to an end!!"
This rally, “Call to Free the Innocent! Free Lorenzo Johnson!” is supported by the Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted from Western PA, Families of the Wrongfully Convicted in NYC, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice (NYC), HRC-FedUp (Pittsburgh), the Abolitionist Law Center and others. Join Us!! Sign the petition to Free Lorenzo Johnson.