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Thread: Jesse Lee Johnson - Oregon Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Jesse Lee Johnson - Oregon Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    On March 20, 1998, Johnson robbed Harriet Thompson in her home, stabbed her repeatedly, and slashed her throat. Johnson had a long record of violent crime. The defense attacked the prosecution’s circumstantial proof at the guilt phase, and Johnson claimed innocence throughout the proceedings.

  2. #2
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    No. 07-7288 *** CAPITAL CASE ***
    Jesse Lee Johnson, Petitioner
    Docketed: October 25, 2007
    Lower Ct: Supreme Court of Oregon
    Case Nos.: (S51313)
    Decision Date: April 19, 2007
    Rehearing Denied: July 24, 2007

    ~~~Date~~~ ~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Oct 22 2007 Petition for a writ of certiorari and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed. (Response due November 26, 2007)
    Nov 26 2007 Brief of respondent Oregon in opposition filed.
    Dec 6 2007 DISTRIBUTED for Conference of January 4, 2008.
    Jan 7 2008 Petition DENIED.


  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Oregon Innocence Project requests new DNA tests for Salem man on death row

    The Oregon Innocence Project is taking on the case of a man sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering a Salem woman in 1998. The group has filed a motion in Marion County requesting the DNA testing and retesting of at least 38 pieces of physical evidence in the case against Jesse Lee Johnson.

    Johnson, 55, was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of Harriet Lavern “Sunny” Thompson, 28.

    Thompson’s body was found on March 20, 1998 in her apartment on the lower level of a rental house on 12th St SE, just south of Morningside Elementary School.

    Authorities determined she died from multiple stab wounds.

    The deputy district attorney at the time, Darin Tweedt, said Johnson and Thompson, a nurse’s aide, were acquainted.

    Mike Quakenbush and Craig Stoelk, two Salem police detectives who were investigating the homicide, arrested Johnson a week following Thompson’s killing. He was charged with a probation violation and his clothing was seized by arresting officers.

    Johnson has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation. In 2004, he declined the state’s plea offer for first-degree manslaughter and first-degree robbery.

    The memorandum filed by the Innocence Project stated the following:

    Several pieces of DNA evidence were recovered at Thompson’s home. Some, including a cigarette butt, a bottle of liquor and a dollar bill, matched Johnson’s DNA.

    Johnson admitted to knowing Thompson, and the pieces of evidence were consistent with a social visit.

    However, several key items recovered from the scene did not match Johnson’s DNA. A semen sample taken from a vaginal swab of the victim, a spot of blood by the bathroom sink, blood on the bathroom floor and hairs found on the victim were not a match to Johnson.

    In 2016, at the request of Johnson’s lawyers, one of the vaginal swabs taken from Thompson was submitted to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS. The search returned with one match — for a man not previously investigated as part of Thompson’s murder.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Judge denies Oregon death row inmate's request for new DNA testing in murder case

    By Everton Bailey, Jr.
    The Oregonian

    A Marion County Circuit Judge on Monday denied a death row inmate's request to order new DNA testing in the 1998 fatal stabbing of a Salem woman.

    Judge Channing Bennett wrote in an opinion letter that Jesse L. Johnson's motion for more testing doesn't show a clear defense theory that could lead to a finding that he is actually innocent in the killing of 28-year-old Harriet "Sunny" Thompson.

    Johnson, now 57, asked to test 37 pieces of evidence, including some for the second time. His attorney argued the tests could open new investigative avenues and possibly lead to new suspects.

    But that "chain of 'ifs'" is too weak to constitute a defense, Bennett wrote. Jurors considered the evidence presented during his trial, including his denial, and found him guilty, the judge said.

    "Nothing in the defendant's argument demonstrates that a jury would more likely than not find him not guilty," the judge wrote.

    Thompson was found dead from several stab wounds in her apartment in March 1998. Johnson was later found by police selling some of her jewelry.

    A Marion County jury found Johnson guilty of aggravated murder in March 2004 and sentenced him to death that same month. The Oregon Supreme Court in 2007 upheld his conviction and death sentence on appeal. Another conviction challenge was struck down in 2015.

    In 2016, attorneys with the Oregon Innocence Project were appointed as his lawyers and they filed a motion in Marion County Circuit Court for new DNA testing. They argued that advances in forensic science and updated techniques could lead to Johnson's exoneration. They noted DNA analysis and other tests of at least 11 items in the case found no ties to Johnson.

    Prosecutors asked the court to the deny the motion last year. Both sides argued their points before Bennett in October.

    "The defendant's inability to articulate a recognized theory of defense that DNA testing would support is fatal to the instant motion," the judge said.

    Johnson knew before his 2004 trial that all of the collected evidence had not been analyzed for DNA, but didn't request the testing before his trial or during his appeal, Bennett wrote. Johnson also didn't identify any DNA evidence that was improperly presented to the jury, according to the judge. Jurors also knew that some of the evidence tested, such as the object likely used to kill Thompson, didn't have Johnson's DNA.

    Johnson remains held at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He is one of 33 Oregon inmates on death row.

    In the Shadow of Your Wings
    1 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

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