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The trial of James Johnson
« on: September 17, 2007, 04:36:55 AM »

Is this another case of the North Carolina legal system being out of control?  Johnson passed a polygraph, another man confessed and said he acted alone (sound familiar?) and yet Johnson goes on trial on the 24th

Is there more to the DA's case than we know?  Unlikely given the open discovery rules, so it will be interesting to see how the case develops.

Sydney Carton
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Re: The trial of James Johnson
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2008, 12:16:46 PM »

  Well,Sarah,you'll be glad to finally get a bit of feedback on this. Too bad that many of James Johnson's defenders don't believe the original Duke defendants should enjoy the same civil rights.
   One of them, the Rev. W.W.Barber(despite his outrageous record in Durham) just got himself appointed to join Jesse and Al at top rank in the NAACP.
   Barber,you may recollect is  the "man of God" who authored that consciously lying 86(?) point diatribe against the Duke boys.It remained posted on the North Carolina NAACP for many weeks after the Lax Boys were declared absolutely innocent.
   Though Jesse once guaranteed Crystal a scholarship regardless of how her case turned out, she has yet to her payback.But Barber who used his "respectability" to recycle Crystal's and Nifong's lies to people who would not otherwise  have believed Crystal and Nifong and who rejoiced in  the suspension of the Lax players constitutional players has received his payoff for services rendered. I never thought I would  say this but Crystal is being defrauded of what they owe .After all they contracted with her in full knowledge that there was no truth in her.
   Anyway we don't disagree that (when it suits his purpose as in Johnson's case) Barber is willing enough to sing  the role of Christian Soldier.
  KC  writes today at  Durham-in-Wonderland:
      Saturday, July 19, 2008
More from the Rev. Barber
In recent months, the North Carolina NAACP and Rev. William Barber have taken up the cause of James Johnson, an African-American initially accused as an accomplice to murder in Wilson, North Carolina. The two pieces of evidence that the NAACP cited to justify its “demand” that Johnson “be exonerated”?

(1) No DNA evidence linked Johnson to the crime. (2) Johnson passed a polygraph test.

Readers of this blog might recall another high-profile North Carolina case in which no DNA evidence linked the accused to the “crime,” and in which all three defendants passed a polygraph test. The state NAACP seemed to view the power of such evidence quite differently in that case.

As in Durham, some in Wilson have demanded a trial of Johnson, so that the victim (in the Wilson case, of course, there really was a victim) could have her day of court. In an interview with WRAL, the Rev. Barber responded to such demands, “I don’t think it’s important to have his day in court if he’s not guilty.” (The Barber statement comes at 21.56 of the linked video.)

As a matter of law, of course, Barber is correct. And it also appears that he’s correct on the facts of the case in Wilson. (His claims of prosecutorial misconduct in Wilson, on the other hand, appear unsubstantiated.)

But how is it possible to reconcile Barber’s statement—“I don’t think it’s important to have his day in court if he’s not guilty”—with his and his organization’s behavior in the lacrosse case?

After all, Barber himself praised the Lord in July 2006, when Judge Kenneth Titus granted the NAACP’s request for a “gag order” in the lacrosse case—a move designed to bolster Mike Nifong’s prosecution of people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in August 2006, Barber’s photograph stood above a guilt-presuming, error-laden 82-point “memorandum of law” designed to bolster Mike Nifong’s prosecution of people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in December 2006, after Nifong wholly changed the theory of the crime and dropped rape charges but retained the other charges, Barber’s case monitor preposterously suggested that the move would aid Nifong’s case—against people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in January 2007, the Rev. Barber himself preached at Duke Chapel. But rather than mention that he didn’t “think it’s important to have [their] day in court if [they’re] not guilty,” the reverend engaged in a character assault on Duke students.

What accounts for the Rev. Barber’s dramatic shift in perspective? Those inclined toward Christian charity might suggest that the outcome of the lacrosse case convinced the Rev. Barber on the need for due process and the dangers of overreaching prosecutors. Those less charitable might offer a different, and I fear correct, explanation.

Sydney Carton
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Re: The trial of James Johnson
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 02:39:04 PM »

   We were too charitable,Sarah.He wasn't actually guilty of the murder but onlly participated in the cover up.Since he felt no guilt for the murder,this would not cause any reaction from the polygraph.

 VideoJohnson pleads guilty in Brittany Willis murder case
 Related LinksWRAL.com archive: James Johnson case
James Johnson case at a glance
 On The WebWRAL reporter Mike Charbonneau on Twitter
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James Johnson pleads guilty in Willis murder case

Posted: Today at 6:00 a.m.
Updated: 7 minutes ago

Wilson, N.C. — A Wilson man charged with helping to cover up the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl nearly five years ago pleaded guilty under an Alford plea Monday.

James Johnson, 22, pleaded to "attempted misprision of a felony" in connection with the June 28, 2004, slaying of Brittany Tyler Willis.

Johnson pleads guilty in Brittany Willis murder case

Resident Superior Court Judge Milton Fitch accepted a request from the defense for a prayer for judgment, meaning no conviction will appear on Johnson's record and the charge will be listed as pending indefinitely.

However, if Johnson is ever charged with another crime or convicted of a crime, he could still be sentenced in the Willis case.

Under an Alford plea, an individual does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has enough evidence for a conviction. Misprision of a felony means failing to notify authorities of a crime and is punishable by a maximum of 15 months in prison.

Johnson and another man, Kenneth Meeks, were initially charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case. Meeks plead guilty in April 2006 and, in a letter to the Wilson Daily Times, declared Johnson's innocence.

Johnson spent more than three years in jail on the murder charge, held on $1 million bond. He was released in September 2007 after his bond was reduced.

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Belinda Foster dismissed the charges against Johnson in December 2007. He was re-charged as an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

"Anything I do today will not bring Brittany Willis back. Anything I do today will not give the defendant Johnson his 39 months back," Fitch said Monday.

McFadyen, a retired district attorney serving as a special prosecutor in the case had asked Fitch for a probationary sentence. Fitch's ruling means Johnson will serve no further punishment in this case.

"We are satisfied with what happened here today," Willis' father, Randy Willis, said prior to Fitch's ruling. "We are just ready to move forward and find some closure."

Jurors chosen last week – seven women (two black and five white) and five men (three black and two white) – were picked from Edgecombe County, in part, because of pretrial publicity about allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and about racial division over the case. Johnson is black; Willis was white.

Johnson's parents have said that he admits to wiping fingerprints off Willis' SUV, but that he was under duress because Meeks showed him a gun. Willis had been kidnapped in her SUV before she was killed.

Johnson went to Wilson police about the crime three days later. According to court documents, Meeks has said that is why he initially blamed Johnson.

"I think he did do the right thing. I'm just sorry it took him the length of time to do it," Fitch said Monday.

Johnson's supporters, who include the state NAACP, have said they believe the state should have also dismissed the accessory charge and say that Johnson should be considered a hero for turning in Meeks to police.

Other than the statement Monday, Willis' family has spoken very little about the case.

The NAACP said it will likely issue a statement later Monday.

A recording of Monday's proceedings will be posted on WRAL.com later this afternoon and will also air at 8 p.m. on the WRAL NewsChannel.
Sydney Carton
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Re: The trial of James Johnson
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2009, 01:16:55 PM »


NC man once accused of murder marks end of ordeal
By MARLON A. WALKER : Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
Feb 19, 2009

GOLDSBORO, N.C. -- James Johnson's plea Monday to a felony charge in connection with the death of a 17-year-old Wilson girl marked the end of his legal ordeal surrounding the case.

Johnson entered an Alford plea to a misprision of a felony charge, meaning he does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors may have enough evidence to convict him. No judgment goes on his record.

But he and his family said the battle with the legal system that wrongly jailed him more than three years continues for anyone who may face what's taken him nearly five years to overcome.

"We can't let it end there," said Johnson's father, Arthur Johnson. "If you just say it's over because of Monday, by Tuesday you're right back where you started from."

Brittany Willis, police said, was kidnapped at gunpoint on June 28, 2004, from a shopping center parking lot. Authorities found the 17-year-old's body the next day at a construction site. She had been raped and shot twice.

Then-16-year-old Kenneth Meeks showed up to the Johnson family home the night of Willis' murder in a sport utility vehicle James Johnson said he didn't recognize. From there, the two drove to the construction site where the girl had been killed. Johnson was shown the teen's body.

But after he told authorities of what he'd been told and saw, the finger was pointed back at him. He was jailed more than three years on murder, rape and kidnapping charges in Willis' death.

Meeks eventually was sentenced to life without parole in Willis' death. He later recanted his story to authorities that James Johnson had a part in the slaying, going as far as to write the local paper with the information.

Johnson's charges were eventually dropped in September 2007, but a special prosecutor given the case charged Johnson with accessory after the fact for his role in the incident. The prosecutor claimed Johnson wiped his fingerprints off Willis' vehicle.

"I was tired of the court system," Johnson, now 22, said at a prayer vigil marking the end of his nearly 5-year ordeal. "Even if it was a 99-percent chance I'd get off, that one percent ... scared me. I've already seen (my family) through glass for three-and-a-half years."

He said he intended to fight the charges to the end, but fear of going back to the same place he says he was wrongly held for more than three years pushed him to accept the plea agreement. He had been released in September 2007 when a judge reduced his $1 million bond.

Johnson was barely an adult when he was jailed on murder charges in July 2004. Now, he says, he plans to use his story to help other teens going down the wrong road.

"Being in jail, I realized some of the traps some of the young brothers fall into," he said. "I want to give them an outlet. I want to open their eyes."

The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said Wednesday more needs to be done to prevent prosecutors from wrongly targeting innocent people.

"The James Johnson case was never a case about the Willises versus James Johnson," Barber said. "The case was about James Johnson versus an arrogant system of injustice."

NAACP officials spent Wednesday morning telling stories of others who had been convicted in North Carolina. Some, like Alan Gell, had been sentenced to die for crimes they were later found to have not committed. Gell was acquitted in 2004 of a 1995 killing after it was revealed prosecutors had withheld key evidence during his original trial.

A complaint with the State Bar is still in progress against Wilson County assistant district attorney Bill Wolfe, whom the Johnsons have accused of prosecutorial misconduct. Barber has said he's hoping the NAACP's national office will assist them in fighting what he sees as injustices in the state's legal system.

      " The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said Wednesday more needs to be done to prevent prosecutors from wrongly targeting innocent people."
   That's not the way Barber told it during the Duke riots but it's good to know that he has now experienced  a truly radical change of heart and that he will,no doubt, shortly be joining with the players to haul  Nifong and  other criminally culpable individuals before the bar of North Carolina justice.
   See "Where Are They Now" over in the Duke case file for starters on our considerable backlog of Barber materials.
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