Today at 1 p.m. in Baton Rouge, Rickey Johnson – who was freed yesterday after serving 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – will speak out for inmate access to DNA testing. Johnson would not be free today if he weren’t from Sabine Parish, where District Attorney Don Burkett worked with the Innocence Project to secure testing in the case and has now said he will help Johnson push for compensation for the injustice he suffered.
Defendants convicted in other parts of Louisiana have not met with such cooperation. Two Innocence Project clients – Archie Williams and Kenneth Reed – are seeking DNA testing that can prove their innocence. Both men were convicted in East Baton Rouge, and local district attorney Doug Moreau has fought to prevent them from receiving the tests. Williams, who spent time with Johnson at Louisiana’s state prison at Angola, has filed 10 motions over the last 13 years seeking DNA testing. Moreau has fought every one. In August, a state appeals court finally granted DNA testing in Williams’ case, but Moreau appealed that decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to hear the appeal.
“Rickey left Archie Williams behind at Angola, where he continues waiting for the DNA tests that can prove his innocence or confirm his guilt,” Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said yesterday. “Rickey Johnson wants to look Doug Moreau in the eye and share his profound personal experience with DNA testing. We will ask Mr. Moreau to immediately drop his state Supreme Court appeal and consent to DNA testing in Archie Williams’ case.”
Press coverage of Rickey Johnson’s exoneration: