Friday, July 20, 2007

Texas to execute man in case involving evidence suppression and self-defense: Lonnie Johnson

The state of Texas is scheduled to execute Lonnie Johnson on July 24, 2007. Johnson was sentenced to death for the August 1990 murders of Gunar Nelson Fulk and Leroy McCaffrey. Johnson argues that he acted in self-defense.

Click here to send Governor Perry an email urging him to stop the execution of Lonnie Johnson.

Excerpt from Johnson's latest writ of habeas corpus and motion for a stay:

Although Lonnie Johnson maintained from the outset that he was the victim of an assault and acted only in self-defense, Mr. Johnson was convicted of an unprovoked murder/robbery, allegedly committed because the victims owed Mr. Johnson money. At trial, the State manipulated the evidence in order to support its theory of the case and concealed evidence inconsistent with its presentation of the case to the jury.

For example, the jury was led to believe that Mr. Johnson was carrying a gun on the evening of the crime but new evidence demonstrates that -- consistent with Mr. Johnson's statements -- the gun belonged to the victims. This new revelation renders Mr. Johnson's statements that the decedents pulled a gun on him more plausible than the State's theory that Mr. Johnson was the aggressor.

Further doubt is cast on the gun evidence because, unbeknownst to the defense and jury, the gun allegedly sold by Mr. Johnson and then recovered by the police was broken and inoperable, which casts graves doubt on the testimony by now-discredited HPD ballistics examiner Robert Baldwin that he test fired the weapon and matched it to the bullets recovered from the victims.

Likewise, the police knew but did not disclose that the decedents' relatives and friends had been involved in a series of racially-motivated attacks and counter-attacks immediately before and after the incident. It is now clear that contrary to the State's presentation at trial, placed in context, the assault in this case was one of many racially-motivated attacks in the area. Earlier in the evening, two young white men argued with two young black men at the Texaco, across the street from the Stop N Go where the decedents met and offered Mr. Johnson a ride.

Days after the death of decedents, a truck full of younger, unrelated black men fired at a vehicle containing the brother of one of the decedents, the Stop N Go clerk, and a young woman that decedents visited on the night of their deaths. Because the State withheld from the defense the information necessary to give the jury an accurate picture of the series of events in which this case arose, Mr. Johnson was convicted based on a deeply flawed picture of the facts.

In addition to sending Gov Perry an email, you can leave him a phone message at: 512-463-2000, fax him at 512-463-1849 (his fax line is often busy, so just keep trying) or write him at:

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

You can also contact Governor Perry through his online contact form.

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