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Toforest Johnson has been on Alabama's death row since 1998, for a crime he says he did not commit. In December of 2020, Johnson's case started to look more hopeful, as Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr concluded a nine-month, independent review of the case, writing in a legal pleading that his "duty to seek justice requires intervention in this case," requested that Judge Teresa Pulliam set aside Johnson's conviction and death sentence and grant him a new trial. Johnson was convicted in Birmingham, Alabama for the murder of Deputy Sheriff William G. Hardy. However, the prosecutors could not settle on one theory for their case, arguing five different theories over five different court proceedings. The state's only evidence against Johnson was the testimony of Violet Ellison, a woman who had never met Johnson or heard his voice. She claimed to overhear someone who identified themselves as "Toforest" confess to the murder in a three way call from jail. This is hardly enough evidence when a man's life is on the line. When Carr re-evaluated the case he reviewed trial transcripts and prosecutorial files, interviewed at least one alibi witness who did not testify at Johnson's trial, and discussed the case with attorneys and others who were involved in the case. The lead prosecutor who obtained Johnson's conviction and death sentence in 1998, Jeff Wallace, joined Carr's request for a new trial. Now Johnson's life rests in the hands of Judge Pulliam who refused to consider Carr's legal pleading in June. The new filing is pending in Pulliam's court.


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