In September of 2004, Eugene was granted a new trial after serving more than 8 years of being wrongfully convicted of murder by a Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo. The only key prosecutorial witness in the case, Tamika Harris, was only 14 years old at the time of the trial. In late 2003, she contacted Eugene's attorney, Brett Murner and James Valentine saying, "she did not identify Eugene because she actually saw him do the shooting- in fact she never saw the shooter's face clearly." Rather, "she was manipulated into identifying him by coercive practices of the East Cleveland police department, specifically: she was only shown three pictures at the police station, the detective's hand was pointed at Eugene's picture while he asked her to identify the shooter, and Eugene's coat was a similar color to that of the shooter."
Judge Russo conducted a hearing based on this newly discovered evidence. She questioned Tamika at length about her original testimony and why she had come forward when she did. Judge Russo found Tamika's testimony so compelling that she did something almost unheard of. She granted Eugene a new trial.
After 8 years of incarceration, Eugene Johnson was released from prison and reunited with his family. In July of 2005, the Eighth District Court of Appeals overturned this decision and determined that Mr. Johnson was not entitled to a new trial despite the significant evidence that was not available to him at trial. Eugene was subsequently sent back to Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut where he continues to serve his sentence.
This story is obviously of great public interest. The trial court, which actually questioned the witness concerning her original testimony and weighed the credibility of her current testimony, determined that Eugene was entitled to new trial., not because Judge Russo made an arbitrary and capricious decision, but because they disagreed with her conclusion. That is not the law. Because of their meritless and illegitimate decision, an innocent man once again sits in jail.
It is Eugene's wish, to bring public awareness to the fact, of how injustice occurs from courts overstepping the boundaries. To silence a innocent man along with many others, were injustice has ocurrs.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to call 740-656-1104
Visit Website: http://www.innocentinmates.org/
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