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Alabama Supreme Court decides on new trial request for death row inmate

Death Penalty Alabama Johnson
Alabama Department of Corrections
FILE - This photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections in September 2022 shows Toforest Johnson. The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday, Dec. 16, denied a new trial for Johnson, a death row inmate, in a case that has seen the district attorney, former state attorney general and a former chief justice join calls to reexamine his conviction. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP, File)

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on a request for a new trial for a man convicted of killing a Deputy Sheriff. The district attorney, former state attorney general, and a former chief justice all say the case should be re-examined. The State’s high court denied the request. Justices rejected Toforest Johnson's appeal of a lower court decision denying him a new trial. Former Alabama Chief Drayton Nabors went as far as to pen an Op-Ed for the Alabama Daily News stating his concerns over Johnson’s trial. He wrote specifically about testimony from a woman who claimed to have heard a three-way prison phone conversation where the inmate admitted to the killilng. Nabors wrote…

“It turns out that the woman was paid $5,000 for her testimony after the trial, which was never disclosed to Mr. Johnson or his lawyers. As for Mr. Johnson’s actual whereabouts at the time Deputy Hardy was killed, multiple witnesses have told the District Attorney in Birmingham, Danny Carr, that Mr. Johnson was across town and could not have committed the murder. DA Carr met with these witnesses and he found them credible...”

The request for a new trial was one part of an ongoing effort to overturn the conviction. Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1995 killing of Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff William Hardy. Johnson's lawyers will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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