NAACP Victory—Murder charges dropped in James Johnson case

Much diligent work by the NAACP North Carolina State Conference continues to produce significant results. Prosecutors announced yesterday that James Johnson, 21, will not face murder charges in connection with the death of a white, female classmate following their graduation from a high school in Wilson in 2004.  Yet an accessory charge remains.

State of Emergency James Johnson

Johnson spent more than three years in a North Carolina jail awaiting trial. No physical evidence ties Johnson to the crime and two DNA tests clear him in the death. He provided information to the police to help identify the killer and locate the victim, yet he was penalized.

The state conference’s work led to Johnson’s release on bond in October and reassignment of the case to the Administrative Office of Courts, supervised by Chief Justice Sarah Parker of the state’s Supreme Court. The man who implicated Johnson in the death has since recanted and is serving a life sentence for the murder.             

Statement from the Rev. Dr.  William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP:

"The light of Christmas has shown on the dark nightmare that James Johnson has suffered for 42 months in a false incarceration on murder, rape, and kidnapping charges without a trial. Tonight the special prosecutor dismissed all murder, rape and kidnaping charges against him. It is a major victory for truth and justice.

"James is an innocent young man who was falsely accused. It is not yet a total victory because one count of accessory remains, but we will celebrate tonight, and pick up the fight tomorrow for James' full exoneration tomorrow."

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