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Kareem Johnson - Pennsylvania
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Thread: Kareem Johnson - Pennsylvania

  1. #1
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    Kareem Johnson - Pennsylvania



    Facts of the Crime:

    Kareem Johnson was convicted for the fatal shooting of a witness in a 2002 murder case. Johnson, of North Philadelphia, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for the February 2004 shooting death of 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs, who was hit by a stray bullet during a gun battle outside his school. A crossing guard was wounded.

    Johnson was sentenced to death in Philadelphia County on July 3, 2007.

  2. #2
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    Tha Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Johnson's death sentence on direct appeal in an opinion issued on December 29, 2009.

    Opinion is here:

    http://www.courts.state.pa.us/OpPost...-32-2009mo.pdf

  3. #3
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    Governor Rendell Signs Execution Warrant

    Kareem Johnson, 26, of Philadelphia County. Johnson was convicted of 1st-degree murder in June 2007 for the shooting death of Walter Smith in December 2002. Johnson is held at SCI Graterford. His execution date is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8.

    * Not a serious date

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Johnson was granted a stay of execution on January 18, 2011.

  5. #5
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    On July 8, 2011, Johnson filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/pen...v04402/423224/

  6. #6
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    Mistaken DNA interpretation sends death-row case to retrial

    When Kareem Johnson killed Walter Smith outside a North Philadelphia nightclub, prosecutors said, he shot him at such close range that Smith's blood splashed onto Johnson's red Air Jordan baseball cap.

    That cap helped convict him.

    "That hat that was left at the scene in the middle of the street has Kareem Johnson's sweat on it and has Walter Smith's blood on it," Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry told jurors. "DNA is a witness. It is a silent, unflappable witness."

    But he was wrong.

    Prosecutors now concede that they misinterpreted the DNA evidence that helped send Johnson to death row. The blood was found on a black baseball cap that belonged to Smith - not on Johnson's red hat.

    That admission has prompted a Philadelphia judge to order a new trial for Johnson and to set aside his 2007 death sentence.

    Eric Montroy of the Federal Defenders Office, reviewing Johnson's conviction on appeal, discovered that prosecutors had misread a lab report on the DNA analysis. They mistakenly concluded that Smith's blood had been found on Johnson's hat when it was actually found on Smith's hat.

    At trial, Johnson's lawyers, Michael Coard and Bernard Siegel, failed to catch the error and did not challenge that critical link between Johnson and the mortally wounded Smith.

    So the mistaken evidence was introduced at trial, along with testimony from a jailhouse informant who said he had heard Johnson admit to the killing and recall firing the fatal shots. "Pow. Boom," he quoted Johnson as saying as he gestured pulling a trigger.

    Prosecutors said Johnson killed Smith because Smith was a key witness in a murder case against a friend of Johnson's.

    At trial, Coard denounced the prosecution's case and called the informant a liar. He said the evidence against Johnson amounted to nothing more than "a rat and a hat."

    But prosecutors prevailed, and Johnson, already serving a life sentence for fatally shooting 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs as he walked to school in 2004, was convicted of Smith's murder. Faheem's killing, which shook the city, was presented as an aggravating factor at sentencing and Johnson was sentenced to death.

    The challenge to the DNA evidence in the Smith case freed Johnson from death row as he awaits retrial.

    Regardless of the outcome of his new trial, Johnson, now 30, will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing Faheem.

    In ordering a retrial in April, Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Harris Ransom said Johnson's lawyers had failed him by missing the mix-up with the DNA. She said that was ineffective assistance of counsel.

    Montroy, Johnson's appellate lawyer, said in court papers that Coard and Siegel were "consistently ineffective for failing to hire an expert in DNA and for failing to request underlying documents regarding the DNA analysis."

    He also faulted prosecutors, saying their presentation of the DNA evidence was a "complete fabrication" and amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.

    In court filings, prosecutors called the error "an honest mistake."

    Barry declined to comment.

    Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, downplayed the significance of the disputed DNA.

    "This is a piece of evidence," he said, adding that DNA alone did not convict Johnson. "We believe the evidence shows that he is guilty."

    Coard, Johnson's lead lawyer at trial, said in an interview this week that Siegel, who died of cancer in 2012, had been tasked with handling the DNA aspect of the case.

    "I gave him absolute sole discretion on the DNA," Coard said. "He felt he knew enough to not bring on an expert."

    Defense lawyer Marc Bookman, who will represent Johnson at his new trial, declined to comment.

    Johnson has maintained his innocence. He declined a plea deal that would have given him a life sentence in the Smith killing.

    A date for his retrial has not been set.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20...K91iDAfW1Em.99

  7. #7
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    It sounds like this guy is still guilty, but if I'm reading this correctly, that's the sort of mistake that is completely unforgivable, especially on the part of all attorneys (prosecuting and defense). It's like the old carpentry line: measure twice, and cut once. They should have verified and double and triple verified that this was from the right hat.

  8. #8
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    DA won't seek death penalty in 2007 slaying retrial

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty in the retrial of a north Philadelphia man whose death sentence almost a decade ago was invalidated by erroneous DNA evidence.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1om9Cp8 ) reports that prosecutors announced the decision Tuesday in the case of 31-year-old Kareem Johnson, who won a new trial after prosecutors acknowledged having misinterpreted DNA evidence in the 2002 slaying of 39-year-old Walter Smith.

    Prosecutors said Smith's blood was found on Johnson's red baseball cap, but it was actually on Smith's black baseball cap. Authorities alleged that Smith was shot outside a north Philadelphia bar because he was a key witness in a murder case against a friend of Johnson's.

    Johnson was already serving a life term in a 2004 shooting that wounded a 10-year-old.

    http://www.readingeagle.com/ap/artic...laying-retrial

  9. #9
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    Judge refuses to bar retrial in DNA mix-up

    Calling it an "intolerable mistake" but not a prosecution attempt to subvert a fair trial, a city judge has refused to bar the retrial of a North Philadelphia man whose 2007 death sentence was invalidated because of a mix-up in DNA evidence.

    Lawyers for Kareem Johnson, 31, argued Thursday that the DNA mix-up that resulted in his death sentence in the 2002 shooting of Walter Smith was so egregious that retrial should be barred under the Constitution's "double jeopardy" provision, which bars successive trials for the same conduct.

    Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, in his final day on the bench, said the evidence error was part of a "gross series of unimaginable mistakes by experienced police officers and experienced prosecutors."

    Nevertheless, Lerner continued, court precedent holds that barring a retrial is "the most extraordinary of remedies. . . . The Commonwealth and prosecution must have engaged in a pattern of intentional mistakes so severe and so sustained that the only conclusion is an attempt to subvert justice and deny the defendant a fair trial."

    Johnson's lawyers, Gregory J. Pagano and Marc Bookman, director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a Philadelphia nonprofit that supports capital defense lawyers, said they would appeal Lerner's ruling to Superior Court.

    Regardless of the outcome of Johnson's retrial, he will never see freedom again. He is serving life without parole for fatally shooting 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs as the boy walked to his North Philadelphia school in 2004 during a gunfight that involved rival gang members.

    Bookman and Pagano argued that the mistakes in investigating and prosecuting Johnson amounted to "prosecutorial misconduct." But Lerner said he found credible Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry's explanation of the error.

    Assistant District Attorney Andrew Notaristefano told Lerner the mix-up was an "honest mistake" that Johnson's trial counsel also missed.

    Johnson was convicted in part because of what prosecutors said was Smith's blood on Johnson's red Air Jordan baseball cap. The cap was found near Johnson's body.

    Only last year, during Johnson's appeal hearings, did defense lawyers find that the prosecutor and police witnesses had erroneously conflated DNA reports from two caps found at the scene.

    Smith's blood was not on the red cap identified as Johnson's. The red cap contained only Johnson's DNA in its sweat band.

    Barry and William Trenwith, the police crime scene investigator on the case, testified last month that they never knew a black hat had been recovered until last year's hearings.

    Though Lerner ruled that the mistake was not caused by police or prosecution misconduct, he was unsparing in describing the result: "It produced a trial that was a farce."

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20...2Id3mI3zbPO.99

  10. #10
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    Retrial barred by the Pennsylvania Suprme Court.

    https://law.justia.com/cases/pennsyl...eap-2018.html#

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