[col. writ. 10/19/16] ©’16 Mumia Abu-Jamal
OVER HALF HIS LIFE, LORENZO “Cat’ Johnson has been held in some of the toughest prisons in Pennsylvania, under some of the worst conditions, often in the hole.
For over 20 years, he has been part of one of the biggest lifer populations in America;
People sentenced to death by time –Life –forever.
But in 2012, a ray of light shone through the darkness when the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his unjust conviction, based on insufficiency of evidence, and ordered his prison doors opened.
A few months later, a great darkness fell when the U.S. Supreme Court, in a rare and almost unprecedented action, without briefs or oral argument, reinstated both his conviction and his life sentence.
Through tears, Cat left his new life, his new wife, his job, and friends and returned to Pennsylvania from his native Yonkers, New York – and walked, willingly, back into a prison cell.
As a teenager, Cat boxed in the ring, before the streets called him. Now as a man in his 30s, Cat laced up for the biggest battle of his life –his Freedom.
His lawyers, a dedicated bunch led by the skillful Mike Wiseman, tore the case apart, and learned some rather astonishing things, like the State’s crack addicted star witness gave over a half dozen statements in the days after the killing of a Harrisburg crack dealer, and even more astonishingly, she was first named as a prime suspect in the murder! (The jury, needless to say, never heard that.)
Those statements? Oh, yeah – they have never been turned over to the defense – not before trial –and not to this date (a blatant violation of Brady vs. Maryland, a U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1963, which required prosecutors disclose all evidence favorable to the accused!)
The cops threatened others with murder charges if they didn’t say Cat did it.
The kicker is this – cops and prosecutors knew Cat was out of town when Tarajel Williams was killed and that he had nothing to do with it.
Several years ago, a Court tossed his conviction based upon insufficient evidence. Today, his lawyers have uncovered the truth: no evidence of guilt, and overwhelming evidence of his innocence.
He just awaits his day in court.