“Mr. Johnson, how does it feel to be a free man after spending twenty-five years in jail?” a reporter asked Leroy Johnson as he stood in front of the courthouse with its massive pillars. His mother was beside him.
He looked around at the sea of reporters with their mikes shoved in his face and the flashing cameras and smiled. “It feels great!” he exclaimed.
Leroy was freed after spending twenty-five years of his life behind bars convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. He was a free man now thanks to a couple of law students who examined the questionable circumstances surrounding his conviction and got his case opened. Malcolm Holder, the real killer confessed to the killing.
“Do you feel any resentment toward Malcolm Holder?”
Leroy shook his head. “Why should I feel resentment toward him? He came forward and confessed to the killing twice. The first time he did it was a couple of days after the shooting but he wasn’t arrested. He tried to do the right thing but nobody listened. They arrested me instead, an innocent man and sentenced me to forty years in jail with no chance of parole before 2029.”
“Is there anything you want to say to him?”
“Nothing except, that he did the right thing coming forward.”
“Mrs. Johnson, how does it feel to have your son back?”
Mrs. Johnson smiled. “It feels wonderful,” she replied. “After twenty-five years, the Lord finally answered my prayers. My son is a free man now.”
“Mr. Johnson, what do you plan to do now that you’re free?”
He put his arm around his mother’s shoulders. “I’m not thinking that far ahead but right now, I’m taking my Mama to lunch.”
I was inspired to write this story after hearing about the New York prisoner, Valentino Dixon whose conviction was overturned because of an investigation Golf Digest’s Max Adler helped to open. Valentino was accused of shooting a man back in 1991. He was arrested and convicted even though the real killer, Lamarr Scott admitted to local media just days after the murder that he shot Torriano Jackson but, he was never arrested. To read the story, visit here.