“Our prosecutors have been sworn to not only aggressively advocate on behalf of the victims of crime, but must also pursue justice on behalf of those who are wrongly convicted when the appropriate evidence presents itself,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
CIU Chief Lauren Lipscomb said that the re-investigation began in earnest after Jerome Johnson’s private attorney, Nancy Forster, contacted her. Johnson had exhausted all of his post-trial remedies and contacting the State was his final path to freedom.
“Ms. Forster presented us with compelling new evidence that appeared to contradict the evidence elicited at trial. From there, we immediately launched a re-investigation into Mr. Johnson’s case,” Chief Lipscomb said. “As the investigation moved forward, with the agreement of Ms. Forster, we engaged our grant partners at the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project.”
On July 14th in 1988, Aaron Taylor was shot to death at the Night Owl Bar, located in the 3600 block of Woodland Avenue. Witnesses reported that three other men accompanied the shooter, Alvin Hill. Reginald Dorsey, Tommy Carroll, and Jerome Johnson were all tried as co-defendants alongside Hill. At trial, Carroll was acquitted.
According to the re-investigation, Alvin Hill — who has since passed — signed an affidavit admitting that Johnson was not present when he murdered Taylor. Dorsey and Carroll also provided independent statements admitting that Johnson was not present. Lipscomb and her team also confirmed new information from multiple witnesses that Johnson was standing one block away at the corner of Lucille Avenue and Reisterstown Road when Taylor was shot.
At this morning’s hearing, the State moved to have a joint writ of actual innocence petition granted. The State then entered a nolle prosequi as to each charge. Johnson was then processed and released to his family and friends after nearly 30 years of confinement.
Mr. Johnson calmly shared his first thoughts as a free man after being released.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in this investigation,” Mr. Johnson said. “I would like to thank Marilyn Mosby for bringing Conviction Integrity to the State’s Attorney’s Office in Baltimore [City]. It really does save lives.”
State’s Attorney Mosby says she was proud to have seen another wrongfully accused person set free.
“While I’d like to apologize to Mr. Jerome Johnson and his family on behalf of the criminal justice system for the pain they’ve endured because of his wrongful conviction — it is my hope that now that he is set free, that Mr. Johnson is able to return home, heal, adjust to his rightly-deserved freedom, and live his life to its fullest potential,” State’s Attorney Mosby said.