Wednesday, January 16, 2008

DNA Exonerates Louisiana Man after 26 Years, News Channel 5, Alexandria, Louisiana, January 14, 2008 -- A man who has been behind bars for 26 years for a rape he did not commit is a free man. Rickey Johnson was released today in Many after DNA results proved his innocence. He was 26 when he was arrested and is now 52.

The following is a press release from the Innocence Project, a group that works to exonerate wrongly convicted people through DNA testing.

“Rickey Johnson lost more than a quarter of a century, nearly his entire adult life, to a wrongful conviction. He had three young children when he was arrested, and a fourth was born shortly after he was incarcerated; all of those children are now adults, and he has grandchildren he’s never met,” said Vanessa Potkin, the Innocence Project Staff Attorney representing Johnson. “Rickey Johnson’s long nightmare will be in vain if we don’t learn from it and make sure other people in Louisiana have access to DNA testing that can prove their innocence.” In Baton Rouge tomorrow, Johnson will join other people exonerated by DNA testing in Louisiana to call for statewide access to DNA testing and policies to ensure that evidence is properly preserved so DNA testing can be conducted.

Johnson was arrested in 1982 for the rape of a woman in Many in July 1982. The victim in the crime said a man broke into her home at 1 a.m. and stayed for several hours, during which he raped her. She later identified Johnson in a photo array which included an eight-year-old photo of Johnson and just two other photos. Johnson was convicted of the rape in January 1983 and sentenced to life without parole. He has been at Louisiana’s Angola Farm Prison ever since.
“If police and prosecutors had not focused on Rickey Johnson so early in their investigation – and if a proper eyewitness identification procedure had been used instead of a deeply flawed photo lineup – the real perpetrator might have been brought to justice sooner and might not have been free to rape another woman in the same apartment complex,” Potkin said. “Anyone who doubts that our criminal justice system is stronger when we take steps to prevent wrongful convictions should take a close look at Rickey Johnson’s case.”

Read the entire article.

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