New DNA test results prove that Arthur Johnson has been in a Mississippi prison for 15 years for a rape he did not commit, according to court papers filed by the Innocence Project New Orleans. Johnson was convicted in 1993 of a rape in Sunflower County, Mississippi, and sentenced to 55 years. He has maintained throughout that he did not commit the rape, and test results completed late last year prove his innocence, says Innocence Project New Orleans Director Emily Maw.
The Mississippi Supreme Court last week ordered a local court to expedite a hearing on DNA evidence in Johnson’s case. The hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet. But if he is eventually freed, he would become the first person to exonerated by DNA evidence in Mississippi.
“This DNA testing proves that Arthur Johnson was telling the truth when he claimed, from the beginning, that he is innocent of this charge,” Maw said in a statement Friday.
Mississippi is one of eight states without a law providing access to DNA testing for inmates with claims of innocence. Maw and Mississippi Innocence Project Director Tucker Carrington said the state needs an access law to free other innocent people behind before it’s too late.
“This kind of evidence can only be helpful if its exists – and for that Mississippi needs legislation to ensure that there will be clearly established procedures to provide for preservation and testing of this evidence for those whose claims of innocence could be proven,” Carrington said.
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. (Sun Herald (MS), 01/11/08)