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Birmingham District Attorney Asks Court to Give Toforest Johnson a New Trial

Today, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, led by District Attorney Danny Carr, filed an extraordinary brief urging the court to grant a new trial for Toforest Johnson. Mr. Johnson was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998. He remains on death row today, and is now represented by SCHR and the Berkeley Death Penalty Clinic.

In his brief, District Attorney Carr states that his “duty to seek justice requires intervention in this case.” Mr. Carr listed several concerns he has with Mr. Johnson’s conviction and death sentence, including the fact that trial prosecutors “presented as many as five different theories” about the murder for which Mr. Johnson was convicted. The lead prosecutor at Mr. Johnson’s trial joined District Attorney Carr’s request for a new trial.

Toforest Johnson was convicted based on the testimony of one “witness” who claimed she happened to overhear Mr. Johnson confess to the crime on the phone. The witness had never met or spoken to Mr. Johnson before. Just last year, attorneys uncovered documents that showed that the State had made a payment of $5,000 to this “earwitness” for her testimony — a fact that the jury never heard.

You can read more about this latest development here.