Alabama district attorney seeks new trial for Toforest Johnson

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June 12 (UPI) -- A district attorney in Alabama said Friday that a man who's been on death row for 22 years should receive a new trial in the slaying of a sheriff's deputy.

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr filed an amicus brief supporting Toforest Johnson's efforts to be retried.

Johnson, 47, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1995 death of Jefferson County Deputy William Hardy. Hardy was shot to death while working at his part-time job as a security guard at a Birmingham hotel.

Carr said his "duty to seek justice requires intervention on this case." He said Johnson's conviction largely relies on a witness whose testimony appears to be at odds with evidence in the case. Additionally, documents indicated prosecutors secretly paid the witness $5,000 to testify.

Carr also called into question the fact that state prosecutors "presented as many as five different theories of relative to who shot Deputy Hardy." Additionally, he said there were a number of alibi witnesses who said they saw Johnson elsewhere during the time of the killing, but didn't testify at trial.

The amicus brief said the original lead prosecutor in the case met with Carr and said he agreed with his concerns and his support for a new trial.

"It is the district attorney's position that in the interest of justice, Mr. Johnson, who has spent more than two decades on death row, be granted a new trial," Carr wrote in the brief.

He said he's not taking a position on whether he thinks Johnson is guilty of murder.

The Innocence Project has also filed an amicus brief supporting a new trial for Johnson.

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