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Death Row Inmate Seeks New Trial after Alibi Surfaces claiming was Suspect not at the Crime Scene in Alabama

Death Row Inmate Seeks New Trial after Alibi Surfaces claiming was Suspect not at the Crime Scene in Alabama

A district attorney in Alabama is seeking a new trial for a death row inmate, arguing that a recent review has revealed significant flaws in the 1998 conviction that cannot be justified or upheld.

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr has voiced his backing for Toforest Johnson’s request for a fresh trial. Carr has been in favor of a new trial since 2020, but the most recent filing provided a comprehensive review of the case’s post-conviction findings.

After a comprehensive examination and inquiry into the entire case, it is clear that there are serious doubts about the validity of Johnson’s conviction. In the brief, Carr argued that granting Johnson a new trial is necessary in the interest of justice.

Johnson has been on Alabama’s death row since 1998 for the murder of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy. Hardy was tragically shot twice in the head while working off-duty security at a hotel in 1995. Nevertheless, Carr, who assumed the role of county’s district attorney in 2018, expressed that the evidence in this case has gradually fallen apart over the course of two decades.

Carr stated that there are reliable alibi witnesses who confirm Johnson’s presence elsewhere during the time of the crime. According to him, there are several factors that cast doubt on the credibility of the main prosecution witness. This woman alleges that she heard Johnson confess to the murder during a three-way phone conversation that she was secretly listening to.

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Carr stated that the evidence does not support her account. According to reports, she allegedly received a payment of $5,000 for her testimony and has been involved in various legal proceedings as a witness.

“The lead prosecutor in the 1990s case now has serious doubts about (her) account and is in favor of a new trial for Johnson,” Carr wrote, highlighting the prosecutor’s concerns.

The recent filing marks the most recent update in the ongoing legal battle to secure a fresh trial in a highly publicized case that has captured the nation’s interest and even inspired a popular podcast. Bill Baxley, a former Alabama Attorney General, along with Drayton Nabers, former Chief Justice, and a number of former judges and prosecutors, have submitted briefs to the circuit court or written editorials in favor of a new trial for Johnson.

The ongoing petition was initially filed in 2020, but its progress was temporarily halted as other appeals were being heard in various courts.

No response has been received from the Alabama Attorney General’s office regarding the latest filing. In 2022, the attorney general’s office requested a judge to dismiss Johnson’s petition, stating that Mr. Carr’s belief in a new trial for Johnson is simply his own opinion, according to the lawyers representing the office.

Shanaye Poole expressed her gratitude for Carr’s support in advocating for her father to be granted a new trial.

In 2022, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision, denying a separate request for a new trial. Johnson’s legal team contended that the state neglected to reveal that the crucial witness for the prosecution had received a financial reward. The Court of Criminal Appeals in May determined that Johnson’s attorneys were unable to prove that the witness had any knowledge of the reward or was influenced by it.

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