News 12.11.17

California Man’s ‘Shaken Baby’ Conviction Reversed

By Innocence Staff

A California man was released from prison Saturday after a Superior Court judge reversed his murder conviction in relation to the 2001 death of his infant daughter.

Northern California Innocence Project client Zavion Johnson was convicted in 2002 for the murder of his four-month-old daughter, which he maintains was an accident.

During the trial, Johnson testified that the child slipped from his hands into the tub as he was bathing her. Fifteen witnesses, including the baby’s mother, testified that he was a loving and attentive father. But medical experts testified that the child’s injuries were evidence of abuse. Johnson was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

After a recent review of the evidence, experts—including the pathologist that testified at Johnson’s trial—agree that the child’s injuries are consistent with the fall he described 17 years ago.

Johnson was released on his own recognizance while the district attorney’s decides whether to retry his case.

“While nothing can give him back the 17 years he spent in prison for a crime he did not commit, we are grateful to the Court and the prosecutor for recognizing this injustice,” said Khari Tillery of Keker, Van Nest & Peters, who also represented Johnson.

“I’m hoping for a positive future – for my life to begin,” Johnson said in a statement following his release.

Read the Associated Press coverage here.

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